It’s a fair bet that few humans would want an asteroid apocalypse for Christmas.
So we’re glad to report that the world will definitely not end this December, even though a gigantic monster space rock is heading our way.
On December 20, we’re due for a close encounter with a beast called 216258 2006 WH1.
This behemoth is more than 500 metres wide – big enough to wipe out a city.
It will come with 3.7 million miles of our planet, which sounds like a huge distance but is tiny in cosmic terms.
The rock will happily zoom past and leave us all to enjoy our Xmas turkey, rather than smashing into Earth, killing millions and forcing many more into a brutal fight for survival in a post-cataclysm hell world.
Which is nice, obviously.
Unfortunately, it’s a matter of time before we’re hit by an asteroid and the European Space Agency recently found a space rock that could be on a collision course with Earth. Cosmologists on the continent keep a list of all the most dangerous space rocks – and they have just added an object called 2019 SU3 to this dossier of doom. The asteroid is 14 metres wide and has a one in 385 chance of ploughing into our planet on September 16, 2084. However, the impact will only be powerful enough to cause deaths in a local area. If the asteroid hits us, humanity will certainly live to fight another day. ESA added 2019 SU3 to its ‘risk list’ 14 days ago. This database is ‘a catalogue of all objects for which a non-zero impact probability has been detected’. It is expected to come within 73,435 miles of Earth, which is why it’s considered so dangerous. At that narrow distance, it’s feared a slight gravitational nudge could send it careering into humanity’s homeworld. Digital Composite, view from space Humanity could face extinction if the doomsday space rock smashed into our planet (Image: Getty) A fireball that exploded in the sky over Japan could be linked to a huge asteroid that’s destined to smash into our planet, scientists also warned this week. Astronomers have been trying to work out the origins of a tiny, ping-pong ball-sized object which went kaboom as it burned up in Earth’s atmosphere in 2017. The tiny meteor posed absolutely no threat to humanity as it lit up the sky over Kyoto Airport. But Japanese stargazers have claimed it actually broke off a monstrous space rock called 2003 YT1 that’s more than a mile wide. This object is so huge that is has it’s own moon. For comparison’s sake, it’s believed the asteroid which killed the dinosaurs was between seven and 50 miles in diameter. It has a 6% chance of hitting Earth at some point in the next 10 million years.
In a paper published on Arxiv, astronomers said their analysis has ‘identified a likely parent [of the Kyoto fireball], the binary near-Earth asteroid (164121) 2003 YT1. If humanity was still around to witness a cataclysmic impact from this apocalypse asteroid, we could face extinction or, at the very least, endure death and carnage on a global scale. The impact would cause a fireball which would wipe out everything within a radius of hundreds of miles, throwing so much dust into the air that crops would fail around the world and mass starvation would threaten our species’ future. Writing about an impact from a similarly sized object in a post on Quora, mathematician and space expert Robert Walker wrote: ‘it would produce a crater 46 kilometres in diameter. ‘The firestorm including debris thrown up and landing and starting up new fires would extend to 600 km from the impact point. ‘There would be regional earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunami (if it hit the sea). Skies darker than the darkest cloud cover from the dust thrown up into the upper atmosphere, global temperature drops 8 degrees celsius for a week and moderate global effects for months. No summer that year. ‘Plant growth is disrupted for years and there are some global crop failures and some regional extinctions. We get hit by one of these roughly every half million years on average.’