NASA warned that it has detected three massive asteroids that are currently headed for Earth. Based on their sizes, these approaching asteroids can destroy large areas such as cities and towns if they end up colliding with the planet.
The first asteroid that will debut in Earth’s vicinity tomorrow has been identified as 2019 XB. According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), this approaching asteroid is the largest in the group, with an estimated diameter of about 361 feet. The agency noted that this asteroid is currently traveling at a speed of almost 18,000 miles per hour.
Trailing behind 2019 XB is an asteroid known as 2019 WT3. According to CNEOS, this asteroid is moving towards Earth at a velocity of nearly 25,000 miles per hour. The agency estimated that the asteroid is about 220 feet wide.
The last asteroid that is set to approach Earth tomorrow is called 2019 WO2. CNEOS indicated that this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 174 feet. It is currently traveling across space at a speed of almost 17,000 miles per hour.
Both 2019 WT3 and 2019 WO2 are classified as Apollo asteroids. This means that like other Apollos, these two asteroids follow a wide orbit around the Earth and the Sun. Occasionally, their paths intersect with that of Earth as it travels around the Sun.
2019 XB, on the other hand, is a member of the Aten family of asteroids. Unlike Apollos, Aten asteroids’ orbit does not go around Earth. Despite this, they are still known to intersect Earth’s path twice. These Earth-intersections occur when the asteroids are near their farthest distance from the Sun.
If any of these Earth-crossing asteroids hit Earth tomorrow, they can certainly cause a high level of destruction. Given their sizes and speed, these asteroids could wipe out an entire city during an impact event.
Fortunately, Earth is not in danger of getting hit by any one of these space rocks during their visits tomorrow. According to CNEOS, 2019 XB will fly past Earth On Dec. 9 at 5:05 a.m. EST from a distance of 0.04441 astronomical units or roughly 4.1 million miles away.
2019 WT3, on the other hand, will approach Earth on Dec. 9 at 8:19 a.m. EST. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.02513 astronomical units or around 2.3 million miles from the planet’s center.
As for2019 WO2, this asteroid will zip past the planet on Dec. 9 at 1:47 a.m. EST from a distance of 0.01212 astronomical units or about 1.1 million miles away.
Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA. Photo: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL