KEY POINTS

  • The biggest asteroid to approach Earth this month is arriving tomorrow
  • The asteroid has been labeled by NASA as potentially hazardous due to its size and natural orbit
  • The asteroid is big enough to wipe out an entire city upon impact

NASA has warned that the biggest asteroid to approach Earth this month will enter the planet’s vicinity tomorrow. If the asteroid were to hit Earth, it could cause a major impact event that can destroy an entire city.

According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the approaching asteroid has been identified as 310442 (2000 CH59). This massive space rock is currently moving towards Earth at speeds of over 27,000 miles per hour. As indicated in CNEOS’ database, this asteroid has an estimated diameter of about 2,034 feet.

The 310442 (2000 CH59) asteroid is officially classified as an Aten asteroid, which means it follows a wide orbit within the Solar System. As the asteroid flies across space, it occasionally intersects the orbits of various planets including Mercury, Venus and Earth.

Due to the asteroid’s imposing size and natural orbit, it has been labeled by NASA as potentially hazardous. According to the agency, potentially hazardous asteroids are space rocks that are capable of dangerously approaching Earth during their flybys.

“Potentially hazardous asteroids are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth,” NASA explained in a statement.

“Specifically, all asteroids with a minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.05 astronomical units or less and an absolute magnitude of 22.0 or less are considered [potentially hazardous asteroids],” the agency continued.

If forces in space such as gravitational keyholes alter the path of 310442 (2000 CH59), it might find itself on a direct collision course with Earth. If this happens, Earth would experience a major impact.

Given 310442 (2000 CH59)’s size, an impact from this asteroid would leave a crater that’s about 4 to 6 miles wide. The explosion that would be created by the asteroid strike would generate blast waves that are powerful enough to destroy and incinerate everything in their path. The energy from the impact would be enough to destroy a large area such as a major city.

Currently, 310442 (2000 CH59) is not in danger of hitting Earth during its upcoming visit. According to CNEOS, the asteroid is expected to approach the planet on Dec. 26 at 2:54 am EST. During this time, the asteroid will be about 0.04874 astronomical units or roughly 4.5 million miles away.