Apr 20, 2017 11:36 AM EDT
A peanut-shaped asteroid that was hurtling towards the Earth has passed by it harmlessly on April 19, 2017. Those fearing that it will crash into the Earth with catastrophic consequences can rest easy now.
This peanut-shaped shiny asteroid stretched 2,000 feet across. Had it been captured by our Earth's gravity, it could have inflicted substantial damage to the planet.
According to Space.com, this zooming rock, tearing through space from the direction of the sun, had come within a distance of 1.1 million miles to the Earth. That, in astronomical terms, is dangerously close ... just over four times the distance from Earth to Moon.
The asteroid is named Asteroid 2014 JO25 because astronomers of Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona first located it approaching the Earth in May 2014. Although the size of this peanut-shaped asteroid measured by NASA's NEOWISE mission is 2,000 feet across, the radar observations from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico placed it at 4,270 feet at its widest point.
What is really fascinating about this asteroid is that it reflects double the light than Earth's moon, making it a glittering speck in the dark universe. Of course, peanut shape is another one-of-a-kind feature of this asteroid.
From the time the asteroid's path was charted, it was clear that it will pass harmlessly by the Earth. According to Business Insider, despite the zero percent impact probability of this asteroid with Earth, the International Astronomical Union's Minor Planet Center, taking cognizance of its size and nearness, still classified it as 'potentially hazardous'.
This asteroid is the nearest that has approached the earth since the massive Asteroid 4179 Toutatis in 2004. The latter shot past the earth at a distance much over four times that from the Earth to the moon. The close approach of Asteroid 2014 JO25 has given a great opportunity for sky watchers at Arecibo and astronomers at NASA's Goldstone Solar System Radar in California to observe its features at close range ... just a few meters across its surface.
Will there be another close call by an asteroid? As per the information of astronomers, another giant half-mile-wide Asteroid 1999 AN10 is expected in 2027. It will give another close shave to the Earth since it will pass at a distance equal to the distance from the Earth to the moon.