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Asteroid Named After ‘God of Chaos’, Apophis, May Crash Into Earth in 50 Years

(Image Credit: University of Hawaii)

(Image Credit: University of Hawaii)

According to reports, Apophis is as big as three football fields put together, and its impact may be 65,000 times more devastating than the Hiroshima nuclear disaster – hence justifying its name.

Apophis, an asteroid named after the god of chaos, is a huge asteroid with a diameter of 370 metres headed towards the Earth. Upon its probable impact, Apophis is said to cause destruction equal to 880 million tons of TNT exploding simultaneously. The asteroid is said to hit the Earth in 2068, causing 65,000 times more destruction than the Hiroshima nuclear disaster. Now, a study claims that the asteroid is being pushed around in sunlight as it moves towards the Earth, causing Apophis to go into the Yarkovsky effect.

The Yarkovsky effect is when the asteroid speeds up because its thermal radiation is not uniform, making it more difficult to make long term predictions over its trajectory. This happens when some parts of the asteroid heat up faster than other parts. While the findings completely changes the way Apophis is moving towards the Earth, the scientists said that the possibility of it crashing into Earth in 2068 is still very much there. The Apophis entering Yarkovsky effect was detected by astronomers at the University of Hawaii led by one Dave Tholen. “The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis, and they show that the asteroid is drifting away from a purely gravitational orbit by about 170 meters per year, which is enough to keep the 2068 impact scenario in play,” the researchers said.

Apophis was discovered in June 2004. The asteroid will be extremely close to Earth on April 13 2029. So close that the asteroid will be visible to the unaided eye and will pass within the belt of communication satellites orbiting the Earth.

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