Skull-shaped Asteroid Named “Death Comet” Visits Earth after Halloween

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • An asteroid that’s shaped like a human skull will fly past Earth on November 11.
  • Also known as a “death comet”, the asteroid is theorized to be a dead comet.
  • Though the asteroid will flyby a bit close to the Earth, astronomers who’ve kept an eye on its path have said there’s no chance that the space rock will collide with Earth.

With Halloween just a month away, something eerie is apparently coming to visit the solar system. A little late for the holiday, but on November 11, a skull-shaped asteroid will be flying by the Earth at a distance of around 25 million miles.

Also dubbed the “death comet”, asteroid 2015 TB145 was discovered on October 10, 2015, by Pan-STARRS1, a telescope that stands on top of the dormant volcano Haleakala on Maui, Hawaii. The first flyby observed happened sometime on October 31, 2015, at around 300,000 miles. In comparison, the moon’s orbit around the Earth averages at 239,000 miles. Back then, NASA named the astronomical object the “Great Pumpkin.”

The asteroid’s small diameter, roughly 2,000 feet, and its distance from the Earth during its visit will make it impossible for someone to see it with the naked eye.

Vishnu Reddy, professor of planetary sciences working at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Lab, said in an email to NBC News Mach that though initial radar images of 2015 TB145 showed that the asteroid was shaped like a human skull, later images revealed that the space rock is “much rougher” than initially thought.

Having conducted research on the asteroid, Reddy said that there is no scientific basis for why it’s called a “death comet”, though it might relate to the date of its arrival. It will be in 2088 the next time the asteroid will fly past the Earth at around 5.4 million miles.

When a comet repeatedly flies close enough to the sun, its icy layers are stripped, leaving the rock- an extinct comet. This is what the asteroid might be.

Though 2015 TB145 is potentially hazardous because of its size and with how close it will be when it flies past Earth, astronomers who have tracked its trajectory say the possibility of it hitting the planet is zero.

Source: NBC News

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