NASA is closely monitoring a potentially hazardous asteroid that is expected to dangerously approach Earth a month from now. According to the agency’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the approaching asteroid is almost twice as big as the Empire State Building.

The asteroid has been identified by CNEOS as 467317 (2000 QW7). According to the agency’s database, the asteroid is currently traveling at a speed of around 14,400 miles per hour. It has an estimated diameter of around 2,133 feet. Given its size, the space rock is almost as big as the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is known as the tallest manmade structure in the world.

According to CNEOS, 467317 (2000 QW7) is expected to fly close to Earth on Sept. 14 at 7:54 pm EDT. During its approach, the asteroid will be about 0.03564 astronomical units or around 3.3 million miles from the planet’s center.

467317 (2000 QW7) has been classified by CNEOS as an Amor asteroid. Like other Amor asteroids, 467317 (2000 QW7) orbits around the Earth and the Sun. These asteroids don’t normally intersect with the orbit of Earth but they are known to fly very close to the planet from time to time.

Although it seems like the asteroid will be flying at a safe distance from Earth, there are certain factors in space that can dangerously alter its path and send it to a collision course with the planet.

One of these is a gravitational keyhole. This is a region in space that’s heavily affected by the gravitational pull of a nearby large object such as planets.

If 467317 (2000 QW7) passes through a keyhole, the gravitational forces could nudge the asteroid into a new path that will take it straight to Earth.

Another major factor that could affect the asteroid’s trajectory is the Yarkovsky effect. According to scientists, the Yarkovsky effect occurs when heat from either internal or external sources affects the spin and trajectory of an asteroid. These heart sources could either come from emissions from the asteroid itself or from direct sunlight.

Similar to gravitational keyholes, the Yarkovsky effect could cause the asteroid to collide with Earth.

Pictured; an artistic illustration of an asteroid flying by Earth. NASA