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'Potentially hazardous' asteroid wider than world's tallest building is hurtling towards Earth

'Potentially hazardous' asteroid wider than world's tallest building is hurtling towards Earth

AJ129 is one of the largest space rocks set to skim past our planet this year. With a diameter of 3696 feet, this most recent entry into the books is a truly huge asteroid, but overall a very low probability of actually causing us any harm.

Astronomers said that the space rock known as 2002 AJ129 will fly by at a distance of about 2,615,1258 miles away from Earth on February 4.

Travelling at speeds of 107,826kmh, it's almost 15 times faster than the world's quickest manned aircraft - the hypersonic North America X-15, which can reach speeds of 7,300kph, The Daily Mail reported.

It is classified as "potentially hazardous", according to the International Astronomical Union.

The asteroid is nearly 0.7 miles wide (1.1 km), thus making it longer than the Burj Khalifa, which is 0.5 miles wide.

Previous research has suggested that if an asteroid of this size crashed into the Earth, so much material would be thrown up into the atmosphere that it would block out the sun for years to come, causing temperatures to drop worldwide and trigger a mini ice age.

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Hypothetically, if the asteroid were to impact Earth, scientist warn that there would be a "very severe global impact".

Nasa is now moving forward with a refrigerator-sized spacecraft capable of preventing asteroids from colliding with Earth.

Currently Nasa would not be able to deflect an asteroid if it were heading for Earth but it could mitigate the impact and take measures that would protect lives and property. A test with a small, nonthreatening asteroid is planned for 2024.

However, the key to mitigating damage is to find any potential threat as early as possible.

If you were a scientist at NASA, you'd probably deem that object as "potentially hazardous", too. "There were 1888 such objects discovered in 2016 and 1,571 in 2015".

A huge kilometre-wide asteroid will skim past the Earth at speeds of around 67,000mph in a fortnight.


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