NASA has issued a warning about a particular asteroid designated as Asteroid 2016 LY48. This near-Earth asteroid is expected to make its closest approach to Earth tomorrow, September 16. According to NASA, this space rock is approaching Earth at a fearsome speed of 38997 kilometers per hour. It is expected to pass Earth on September 16 at a distance of about 1.9 million kilometers.
NASA, with the help of its advanced ground and space-based satellites and telescopes such as NEOWISE, Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), Pans-STARRS1 and Catalina Sky Survey, the space agency has revealed details about this asteroid’s size. It is estimated to be around 310 feet wide, making it almost as big as a building! To be classified as a Potentially Hazardous Object, an object has to be at least 492 feet wide. Therefore, Asteroid 2016 LY48 hasn’t been classified as such by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies.
This asteroid made its very first close approach to Earth nearly a century ago on September 2, 1928, at a distance of 7.3 million kilometers, and its last close approach was on September 17, 1949, at a distance of 2.3 million kilometers. After today, Asteroid 2016 LY48 is expected to come close to Earth on September 15, 2185, at a distance of 4 million kilometers.
It belongs to the Apollo group of Near-Earth Asteroids, which are Earth-crossing space rocks with semi-major axes larger than Earth’s. These asteroids are named after the humongous 1862 Apollo asteroid, discovered by German astronomer Karl Reinmuth in the 1930s.
Asteroids – Definition, and naming process explained
Asteroids are ancient space rocks left over from the early formation of our solar system around 4.6 billion years ago, according to NASA. While most asteroids often revolve around the Sun in the main asteroid belt located between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars, some of them often make close approaches to Earth. Therefore, it is imperative that we discover, and track them for any potentially disastrous approaches.
Once these space rocks are discovered, they are designated a name. But how does this happen? According to ESA, the process of assigning a provisional designation to an asteroid begins when a single observer detects it on two consecutive nights and then sends their findings to the Minor Planet Centre of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The IAU assigns a provisional designation, which typically consists of a serial number like “2023 HV5”. The provisional designation includes the year of the asteroid’s discovery, followed by two letters that indicate the order of its discovery during that year.