Astronomers are monitoring the trajectory of an asteroid that could collide with Earth in 2036 – although the risk of this happening is minimal.
The asteroid, which has been called Apophis – after the Egyptian demon of destruction and darkness – was 300 meters wide and could hit the Earth with the force of 100 nuclear bombs.
It is currently passing at a distance of 14 million miles from Earth – which allows astronomers to analyze it. It is not visible to the naked eye, but can be seen at the website Slooh, which conveys images of space.
The Apophis was first observed in 2004 and at the time caused some fuss because scientists calculated that the risk of a collision with Earth in 2029 was one in 45,000.
Later, this risk was discarded; with new calculations indicate that on April 13, 2029 the mass rock must at a distance of about 30,000 miles from Earth.
The same revisions, however, indicate a risk of collision at 2036, although it is least: one in 200,000.
“In 2029, the asteroid will pass so close to us that will change the orbit of the center of gravity of the Earth,” explained Professor Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen’s University in Belfast.
“Most potential new orbits leave us safe for the next 100 years, but there is a small region of space in which there would be the risk of asteroid hit us on April 13, 2036.”