KEY POINTS

  • The ESA included a new asteroid to its Risk List
  • The asteroid measures over 2,300 feet
  • The impact event could happen in 2046

The European Space Agency (ESA) has detected a new massive asteroid that has a chance of hitting Earth soon. Due to the threat of an impact from the asteroid, the ESA included the near-Earth object in its Risk List.

The Risk List is ESA’s online catalog that features space rocks that have non-zero impact probability. This means that all asteroids featured in this list are in danger of colliding with Earth.

The latest addition to ESA’s Risk List is an asteroid known as 2020 BW19. According to the ESA, the asteroid was only added to the list nine days ago as of this writing.

2020 BW19 is a massive asteroid that has an estimated diameter of 2,329 feet. The ESA noted that if this asteroid hits Earth, its impact velocity could be at almost 40,000 miles per hour.

According to the ESA, 2020 BW19 is an Apollo asteroid, which means it follows a natural orbit that intersects Earth’s path around the Sun. The agency noted that the asteroid’s next near-Earth intersection could result in a collision.

As indicated in the Risk List, 2020 BW19 has a chance of colliding with Earth in the near future. Based on the asteroid’s trajectory, a collision with Earth could happen on Oct. 14, 2046. According to the ESA, the asteroid’s chances of hitting Earth are one in 38,000.

The odds of the asteroid hitting Earth in 2046 depends on various factors in space. One of these is the gravitational keyhole. This is a region in space that’s heavily affected by the gravitational pull of a massive object such as a planet. If 2020 BW19 passes through a keyhole as it makes its way across the Solar System, it could end up on a collision course with Earth.

Due to the asteroid’s massive size and speed, it would cause a violent impact if it hits the planet. The energy it would release upon impact would be powerful enough to wipe out a major city. If it hits the ocean, it would generate towering tsunamis that could take out nearby coastal areas.  

Asteroid Impacts A new report indicates that a total of 26 nuclear-level asteroid impacts have hit Earth since 2000. Photo: Donald Davis