NASA has detected two potentially hazardous asteroids (PHA) that are currently headed for Earth. According to the agency’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), one of the approaching asteroids is over three times taller than the Washington Monument.

As indicated in CNEOS’ database, the first asteroid that will fly past Earth is called 2006 QQ23. The agency estimated that this asteroid is about 1,870 feet long and is traveling at a speed of around 10,400 miles per hour.

2006 QQ23 is expected to reach its closest distance to Earth on Aug. 10 at 3:23 am EDT. During this time, the asteroid will approach the planet from a distance of 0.04977 astronomical units or around 4.6 million miles away.

CNEOS has classified 2006 QQ23 as an Aten asteroid. Like other Aten asteroids, 2006 QQ23 orbits the Sun in an oval path. It intersects with Earth’s orbit as it approaches its farthest point from the Sun.  

Trailing behind 2006 QQ23 is the asteroid known as 454094 2013 BZ45. According to CNEOS, this asteroid is smaller than 2006 QQ23. It has a diameter of about 820 feet and is flying at a velocity of 18,300 miles per hour.

The asteroid is expected to make its debut in Earth’s neighborhood on Aug. 11 at 8:14 pm EDT. During its approach, 454094 2013 BZ45 will fly past the planet from a distance of 0.04352 astronomical units or around 4 million miles away.

454094 2013 BZ45 is classified as an Apollo asteroid. According to CNEOS, Apollo asteroids have very wide orbits around the Earth and the Sun. From time to time, the orbit of these asteroids intersects with that of Earth as it goes around the massive star.

The two asteroids currently approaching Earth has been labeled by CNEOS as potentially hazardous because their orbits closely intersect with Earth’s path.

“Potentially hazardous asteroids are currently defined based on parameters that measure the asteroid’s potential to make threatening close approaches to the Earth,” CNEOS stated. “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 PHAs.”

Two Very Different Asteroids Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA. Photo: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL