KEY POINTS

  • NASA spotted a massive asteroid currently headed for Earth
  • The asteroid is expected to approach Earth tomorrow
  • The asteroid could cause an impact event if it hits Earth

NASA warned that an asteroid almost as big as the Great Pyramid of Giza will approach Earth tomorrow night. If the space rock collides with the planet, it could cause a major impact event that can take out a small town or city.

According to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the approaching asteroid is known as 2019 XF. This asteroid is currently traveling towards Earth at a speed of more than 53,000 miles per hour and has an estimated diameter of 427 feet.

The 2019 XF asteroid is officially classified as an Apollo asteroid. This means that like the other asteroids that belong to this family, 2019 XF has an elongated orbit around the Sun. As it travels within the Solar System, its orbit intersects with that of other planets including Mars, Venus, Mercury and Earth.

First observed on Nov. 25, the last time the asteroid crossed Earth’s orbit was on Aug. 23, 2018. It is not expected to brush past Earth until Aug. 18, 2029.

The 2019 XF asteroid’s upcoming near-Earth intersection is expected to take place on Dec. 17 at 11:13 pm EST. If the asteroid collides with Earth during its approach, it could cause a destructive impact event on the planet.

Given its size and current velocity, the asteroid won’t burn up in the atmosphere. Instead, it would hit the ground and create a crater that’s almost 2 miles wide. Upon impact, the explosion from the asteroid would generate blast waves traveling outwards and destroying everything in their path.

If, however, the asteroid hits the ocean, the impact would cause massive tsunamis that can travel for several miles. Depending on the exact location of the impact, the tsunamis generated by the asteroid strike could wipe out coastal areas and certain inland locations.

Fortunately, Earth is not in danger of getting hit by 2019 XF during its upcoming visit to its neighborhood. As indicated in the CNEOS database, the asteroid is expected to fly past the planet tomorrow night. During this time, the massive space rock would be about 0.02389 astronomical units or roughly 2.2 million miles from Earth’s center.