All eyes are on the "Great Pumpkin" asteroid ahead of its Halloween close approach. Asteroid 2015 TB145 still poses no threat to Earth, but it does continue to deliver some surprises. The latest observations reveal meteoroids associated with the asteroid are unlikely to hit Earth, but, if anything changes, they could put on a show for some skywatchers, particularly in Asia.
The 1,300-foot-wide asteroid 2015 TB145 was discovered less than three weeks ago and will be zoom past Earth at a completely safe distance of approximately 310,000 miles. Without any fear of impact, the asteroid provides an ample opportunity for scientific research, according to NASA. The latest observations indicate asteroid 2015 TB145 may be a dormant comet complete with meteoroids.
"Only about half of the near-Earth asteroids similar in size to 2015 TB145 have been discovered, so we should expect more discoveries like this occasionally," Lance Benner, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, told International Business Times.
Peter Jenniskens, from SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center, and Jeremie Vaubaillon, from the Observatoire de Paris, developed a model to calculate potential past, present and future meteors.
While the idea of a Halloween meteor shower is exciting, the researchers do not expect much of a show. "If, due to different ejection conditions or physical properties than assumed in the model, associated meteoroids do cross the Earth's path, then meteors would...be best seen in Asia," SETI wrote. Different factors not calculated by the researchers could nudge the meteoroids into Earth's path.
Meteor showers were calculated to have occurred in 2009, 2013 and 2014, but the Cameras for Allsky Meteor Surveillance program and the SonotaCo meteoroid orbit survey did not find any evidence supporting the model. Earth could get a potential meteor shower sometime during Halloween 2016.
The additional scrutiny has led to some interesting discoveries about the asteroid. The object previously passed Earth in 1975, the Guardian reported. Because of the close proximity, radio telescopes will be able to develop radar images of the asteroid to learn more about its surface, shape and general physical properties.
"To the best of our knowledge, this is the closest approach by something a few hundred meters in diameter until 2027, so events like this happen roughly once per decade. There's no risk of an impact--it can't hit Earth-- [so] it represents an outstanding opportunity for scientific investigations of this object," Benner said.