29 April Asteroid 2020: What are Asteroids and how are they formed?

29 April Asteroid 2020: A very big asteroid '1998 OR2' will pass close to Earth. It is the most massive asteroid that will fly so close to the Earth this year. It has a diameter of 1.8-4.1 km. It will stay 3.9 million miles (6.3 million kilometres) away from our planet. According to US Space agency NASA, there is no possibility of the asteroid colliding with the Earth. Let us read in detail about asteroids and how they are formed? What is the difference between an asteroid and a comet?
Created On: Apr 29, 2020 10:38 IST
Modified On: Apr 29, 2020 10:38 IST
What are Asteroids?
What are Asteroids?

According to current estimates, Asteroid '1998 OR2' will be the biggest asteroid to fly by Earth this year. The closest approach will be on 29 April around 5:56 a.m. 

Asteroid '1998 OR2' was founded in 1998. With a period of 3 years and 8 months, the asteroid orbits around the Sun that is it will keep coming or visiting Earth once in 4 years. Let us tell you that 6.3 million km is 16 times Earth-Moon distance at 2.3 million km from Earth. It is said that it is travelling with a speed of around 32,000 km per hour and the interesting feature is that it looks like it is wearing a mask. It is like a reminder to us to wear a mask to fight against COVID-19 pandemic.

Asteroids are also known as space rocks. They are rocky remnants that travel in the solar system. Scientists are always eager to know about the early days of the solar system so that they can study asteroids because it contains clues about the early days of the solar system.

Our Solar system formed around 4.6 billion years ago from a collection of gas and dust that surrounds Sun. Much of the gas and dust formed planets and some of the debris leftover. Let us tell you that some debris shattered as remnants of planetesimals within the young sun's solar nebula that never grew large enough to become planets. Due to massive gravitational pull from Jupiter other debris never came together.

What are Asteroids?

Asteroids orbit the sun and are rocky, metallic bodies. They are made up of several rocks and metals like nickel, iron etc. Asteroids are also known as minor planets because they are very small than planets or moon. Asteroids do not have an atmosphere but it is said that about 150 asteroids are known which have small moons that orbit them and even some have two moons. In fact, some asteroids are also binary that is double where two rocky bodies of roughly equal size orbit each other and some are triple also. In 2013, scientists were surprised and discovered that at least one asteroid has rings.

What if an asteroid was about to hit Earth?

Where in Space Asteroids are located?

Most of the asteroids are located in the asteroid belt in a large doughnut-shaped ring between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. Asteroids orbit approximately 2 to 4 AU (186 million to 370 million miles/300 million to 600 million kilometers) from the sun.

Sometimes due to gravitational interactions with planets, some asteroids get altered and as a result, they end up coming closer to the Sun and to the Earth. These Asteroids are called Near-Earth Asteroids.

When Asteroids actually cross Earth's orbital path are called Earth-Crossers and an asteroid is called a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA) if it will come less than .05 AU from Earth.

Also according to some astronomers Asteroids also reaches solar system in the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud. It is said that there are millions of asteroids in the solar system. It is estimated by some scientists that the belt of asteroid gas 1.1 and 1.9 million asteroids which are larger than 1 kilometer or 0.6 miles in diameter and there are millions of smaller ones.

How are Asteroids formed?

Do you know that most of the asteroids are irregular in shape and it is difficult to spot them in the space because they are made up of dark material and are difficult to find against the darkness of outer space?  Asteroids revolve around the sun in an elliptical orbit and have some quite erratic movements. 

As we have read above that asteroids are made up of rocks with some clay, silicate and with different types of metals mostly nickel and iron. In some asteroids, according to the astronomers, some kind of precious metals are found like gold and platinum. In some asteroids, wide varieties of minerals have also been found like olivine and pyroxene and these minerals are also found on meteorites that have landed on Earth.

Most of the asteroids also contain vast amounts of carbon which shows that they closely follow the elemental composition of the Sun. Dawn mission observation indicates that water may have flowed across the surface of Vesta and may be asteroids also contain water or ice in their interiors.

No doubt asteroids are different from comets.

Comets usually have tails and are made up of ice and debris sublimating when the comet gets close to the sun. And we have study above that asteroids does not have tails even they come closer to the sun. Let us tell you that astronomers have spotted tails in some asteroids like asteroid P/2010 A2. This happens when asteroid hit with other asteroids and dust or gas is ejected from their surfaces which create an effect of a tail. Therefore, such types of asteroids are known as "active asteroids" and they are rarely found.

So, now you may have understood about asteroids and their formations.

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