Scientists warned that the small meteor that turned into a flying fireball over Japan in 2017 could be part of a massive binary asteroid. According to scientists, the main asteroid, as well as its orbiting satellite, could follow the trajectory of the meteor and collide with Earth in the future.

On April 28, 2017, a small meteor was spotted flying over Kyoto, Japan. The object, which was only about an inch wide, streaked across the early morning sky as a bright fireball, Space.com reported.

Recently, a team of scientists studied the meteor using the data collected by SonotaCo, an automated system that tracks objects that enter Earth. Using the information they have collected, the scientists were able to create a projection of the trajectory of the meteor that hit Earth two years ago.

Through the projection, the scientists were able to track the meteor’s path as it traveled across space. This led them to conclude that was a small fragment that came from a massive binary asteroid known as 2003 YT1.

According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, 2003 YT1 is a near-Earth asteroid, which means it occasionally approaches the planet. It has an estimated diameter of over 2 miles and is orbited by a smaller asteroid that’s about 690 feet wide.

The scientists noted that the meteor may have been part of the trail of dust made by the binary asteroid. It may have separated from the trail during one of the asteroid’s previous near-Earth approaches.

According to the scientists, there’s a chance that the binary asteroid might follow the same trajectory that brought the small meteor into Earth. This coincides with previous observations on the asteroid that state that it has a 6% chance of colliding with the planet in the next 10 million years.

If 2003 YT1 hits Earth, it could wipe out an entire city or even a whole state. If it hits the water, the massive impact would generate mega-tsunamis that can level entire coastlines.

The findings of the researchers regarding the connection between the 2017 meteor and 2003 YT1 were presented in a new study submitted for publication through ArXiv.org.  

asteroids_passing_earth Over 17,000 near-Earth asteroids remain undetected in our solar neighborhood. Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. Photo: NASA