• A potentially hazardous asteroid will approach Earth this month
  • 2012 ZA133 follows a natural orbit that intersects Earth's path
  • The approaching asteroid is large enough to wipe out an entire city

NASA is currently tracking a massive potentially hazardous asteroid that is expected to approach Earth this month. If this asteroid were to hit the planet, it would cause a major impact event that could wipe out an entire populated city.

The approaching asteroid is currently being monitored by NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS). It has been identified as 2012 XA133. According to the agency, this asteroid is currently traveling across space and moving toward Earth at an incredible velocity of almost 53,000 miles per hour.

CNEOS estimated that the asteroid is about 1,280 feet. Given its size, 2012 ZA133 is significantly larger than the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower.

According to CNEOS, 2012 ZA133 is an Apollo asteroid, which means that it follows an orbit that directly cuts through Earth’s trajectory around the Sun. Aside from Earth, 2012 ZA133 is also known to cross the orbits of Mars, Venus and Mercury.

Due to its size and natural Earth-crossing orbit, 2012 ZA133 has been labeled as a potentially hazardous asteroid.

“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 added.

If 2012 ZA133 ends up on a collision course with Earth, it will cause a major impact event on the planet. Due to its size and speed, the asteroid would create a crater that’s over 8 miles wide. The initial explosion from its impact would obliterate everything in its surroundings.

Then, the asteroid’s explosion would generate blast waves that would be powerful enough to destroy everything within an area as large as a major city.

According to CNEOS, 2012 ZA133’s upcoming near-Earth intersection is expected to happen on March 26 at 10:52 p.m. EST. During its approach, the asteroid will be about 0.04453 astronomical units from the planet’s center, which is equivalent to around 4.1 million miles away.

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