People have been talking a lot whether the asteroid 2006 QV89 is going to hit Earth on 9 September 2019. But ESA finally ends the rumors.
Astronomers have been carefully observing 2006 QV89. The asteroid has had a very, very tiny chance of posing a threat to Earth.
The asteroid is around 20 to 50 meters (65 to 164 feet) across and its orbit crosses Earth’s in such a way that there was a one in 7,000 chance of a collision on 9 September. Even though that’s a very tiny percentage, astronomers still had to investigate it.
However, now the European Space Agency and European Southern Observatory have calmed everybody down. They have concluded that asteroid 2006 QV89 is not on a collision course with Earth this year and the chance of any future impact is extremely remote.
Because asteroids are very small and far away, they are very hard to spot. Even if the asteroid would show up, astronomers would take some measurements and it would become undetectable again.
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2006 QV89 is a similar example. Astronomers discovered it in 2006, and over the course of 10 days, they took observations. Then the object vanished and no one has seen it since.
However, 10 days were enough for astronomers to conclude that the space rock would pass Earth at a close-enough point that there was some risk of collision.
But even if the asteroid were to strike Earth, it wouldn’t “kill” the planet. Instead, if it exploded in the skies above a populated region it would do some serious damage.
“While we do not know 2006 QV89’s trajectory exactly, we do know where it would appear in the sky if it were on a collision course with our planet,” ESA explains. “Therefore, we can simply observe this small area of the sky to check that the asteroid is indeed, hopefully, not there.”
So, the researchers did exactly that and confirmed the asteroid was not a danger to Earth.
“Even if the asteroid were smaller than expected, at only a few metres across, it would have been seen in the image,” ESA says. “Any smaller than this and the VLT could not have spotted it, but it would also be considered harmless as any asteroid this size would burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.”
So, you can breathe freely at least until 2022. That’s when the 13-meter asteroid 2009 JF1 has a one in 4,464 chance of hitting Earth.