The rock is between 1.1 and 2.3 km in diameter and has been named 2022 AP7, discovered between the orbits of Earth and Venus.
The study was written Journal of Astronomy and a study by the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington said it was the largest killer-sized planetary asteroid seen in eight years.
It was discovered by the Blanco 4-meter telescope in Chile.
2022 AP7 is one of three “quite large” space rocks that could be dangerous, according to astronomers, and may even be in the top 5% of the largest rocks ever found.
Scott Sheppard, lead author of the study, explained that “any asteroid larger than 1 km in size is considered a planet killer” because it would throw dust and pollutants into the atmosphere.
According to Sheppard, they could potentially stay there for a long time, blocking sunlight and potentially causing a “mass extinction event” not seen on Earth for millions of years.
But the thought of an asteroid approaching Earth might remind people Adam McKay’s dystopian Don’t Look Up, there’s a reason astronomers aren’t sounding the alarm.
It’s not likely to hit Earth – just Earth’s orbit. By the time 2022 AP7 approaches it, our planet will be on the other side of the Sun during its annual rotation, meaning there’s no chance of a collision anytime soon.
Sheppard warned that in time it would come closer to Earth during its orbit, but that would be centuries later.
He added: “We don’t know the orbit of 2022 AP7 enough to say much about its dangers centuries later.”
in September, NASA’s Dart mission successfully intercepted the asteroid.
This could become a blueprint for avoiding any collision with Earth, and suggest we’ll be better protected against such threats in the future – although 2022 AP7 is probably too big to be stopped this way with just one Dart at the moment.
Jay Tate, director of the National Information Center for Near-Earth Objects, said about it Guardian That the earth is a very small target.
“Currently, anyway, the probability of impact is quite low. “I wouldn’t say negligible, but it’s low enough,” he said.
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