When Is God of Chaos Asteroid Coming?

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  • Astronomers announced that a potentially hazardous asteroid named for the Egyptian God of Chaos could make a close approach to Earth in 2068.
  • Apophis is also scheduled to make a close approach to Earth muchin 2029. The chances of it colliding with Earth during this pass, however, are negligible.
  • Astronomers discovered the asteroid in 2004.

    Pack your bags, Bruce Willis.

    A new report suggests an asteroid named after the Egyptian God of Chaos, Apophis, may get uncomfortably close to Earth in 2068. The scientists tracking the asteroid have discovered that it has sped up, thanks to to an orbital process called the Yarkovsky effect.

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    “The new observations we obtained with the Subaru telescope earlier this year were good enough to reveal the Yarkovsky acceleration of Apophis,” astronomer Dave Tholen, of the University of Hawaii, said in a statement. “[T]hey 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.”

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    Apophis, which Tholen and his team discovered in 2004, is scheduled to swing past Earth in 2029, too. Fortunately, calculations have shown there’s no chance it will slam into our planet then. During its April 13, 2029 close approach, Apophis will swing so close to Earth that the 1,000-foot-wide asteroid will pass between our planet and a network of communication satellites. Here’s the most unsettling part: It’ll be visible to the naked eye.

    Anyone else just get goosebumps?

    As for 2068, astronomers had previously ruled out the possibility that it could collide with Earth. The new observations, however, which the scientists presented at a virtual American Astronomical Society meeting earlier this year, have revealed a startling possibility: We can’t rule out a collision.


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    So why the change in orbit? Asteroids absorb sunlight as they tumble through the solar system. In order to maintain thermal equilibrium, an asteroid will emit that solar energy as heat. This generates a force that causes them to speed up and, in turn, change the asteroid’s orbit. Here’s more about the Yarkovsky effect:

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    Mega-dangerous asteroid called ‘God of Chaos’ is headed toward Earth



    apophis forecast


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    apophis forecast

    • The massive space rock known as Apophis will pass by Earth several times in the upcoming decades.
    • A collision with Earth has been ruled out for most of them, but one pass is still giving astronomers a reason to be nervous.
    • When the rock approaches Earth in 2068 there’s a very slim chance it might hit us.

    There are so many space rocks cruising around our Solar System that it’s hard to keep track of them, at least for those of us who don’t do it on a daily basis, but you’ve probably heard of the massive asteroid known as Apophis before. Apophis, also known as the “God of Chaos,” is an interesting object for a number of reasons, not least of which is the fact that astronomers haven’t been able to rule out the possibility that the rock may actually slam into Earth in the not-so-distant future.

    As Gizmodo reports, the back-and-forth regarding the possibility that Apophis might hit Earth in 48 years’ time has been quite a rollercoaster. At one point it seemed clear that the asteroid wouldn’t pose a threat, but new research suggests there’s still a slim chance it might actually hit Earth.

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    So, how did the forecast change? The researchers involved in the new study took into account a phenomenon called the Yarkovsky effect. It’s the ability of asteroids to actually speed up as they cruise through space. This is because asteroids like Apophis aren’t just dead chunks of rock, but contain different materials that can actually propel the rock. Radioactive material, for example, can seep out of the rock and give it a very slight “boost,” which can be enough to take it on a slightly different path and pose a danger to us or other planets.,

    “Without taking Yarkovsky drift into account, Apophis is still a threatening object, just not in 2068,” Dave Tholen, co-author of the new work told Gizmodo in a statement. “With Yarkovsky taken into account, the 2068 impact scenario is still in play. Small, but non-zero.”

    A non-zero chance sounds spooky, but it’s still a very, very small possibility. Percentage-wise, it’s roughly a 0.00067% chance that the asteroid could impact Earth. However, if the rock is incredibly lucky and humanity is incredibly unlucky, a collision would be devastating. Measuring over 300 meters across and packed with metal, the asteroid would cause an incredible amount of damage if it impacted Earth. The asteroid will make a couple of more distant passes of Earth before 2068, and the possibility of an impact during those passes have been ruled out, but not for 2068.

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