Experts are warning the potentially world-ending space rock is heading towards us – but no one is certain how close it will actually come. Worryingly, it is not yet clear when the huge meteor – believed to be up to ten miles wide – will brush past the planet.
The asteroid was spotted by astronomer Zhao Haibin using China’s largest telescope at Purple Mountain Observatory in Nanjing. The images of the asteroid, dubbed 2009ES by the Minor Planet Center, were captured by the 1.2 metre Schmit telescope last Wednesday.
It is one of 1,640 near Earth asteroids – known as “minor bodies” – heading towards Earth, according to Chinese Academy of Science. Haibin said: “With the help of our images, astronomers across the globe have a more accurate moving trajectory of the asteroid.”
Scientists are keeping a close eye on the meteor as just a minor change in its flight path could have catastrophic consequences for the human race. Experts say if the asteroid were to smash into Earth, it would create an extinction level event, meaning humans are toast.
The impact would equal the explosion of three billion atomic bombs, triggering effects similar to those that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Conspiracy theorists are in a state of panic over the incoming space rock.
Survivalist Tom Lupshu, who creates YouTube videos about perceived threats to humanity, described the effect of a direct impact as “disastrous”. He said: “I have come to several different conclusions to the severity of this possible impact event.
“Through various avenues of research I can not pin point a size of this object because I am finding it to be from one mile wide up to ten miles wide which would be a disastrous event which has never occured on this planet.” There’s no need to panic just yet though.