Fiery 80-foot Asteroid, discovered in 2023, clocked at a zippy 26039 kmph by NASA

NASA has warned that a speeding asteroid could make its close approach towards Earth today. Here’s what you need to know about this hurtling space rock.

| Updated on: Jan 20 2023, 11:09 IST
What is your favourite Hubble Telescope image? NASA wants to know
NASA Hubble Space Telescope
1/5 If you are interested in space, you must be excited about all the images shared by the various space telescopes. In 2022, NASA's Hubble Space Telescope has captured and shared several beautiful images. And NASA wants to know which one is your favourite Hubble Telescope image of 2022? In its latest Twitter post, NASA's Hubble Telescope has shared 4 images released in 2022 and has asked to vote for your favourite image. It can be known that the four images shared by the Hubble Space Telescope are of DEM L 190, NGC 976, HCG 40, and Terzan 2. (Hubble Space Telescope)
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2/5 DEM L 190, is a remnant from a massive star that died in a supernova blast whose light would have reached Earth thousands of years ago. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars. Our own sun and planets are constructed from similar debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way billions of years ago, according to NASA. (Hubble Space Telescope)
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3/5 The galaxy NGC 976 lies around 150 million light-years from the Milky Way in the constellation Aries. Despite its tranquil appearance, NGC 976 has played host to one of the most violent astronomical phenomena known – a supernova explosion. These cataclysmically violent events take place at the end of the lives of massive stars and can outshine entire galaxies for a short period. While supernovae mark the deaths of massive stars, they are also responsible for the creation of heavy elements that are incorporated into later generations of stars and planets. (Hubble Space Telescope)
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4/5 The Hickson Compact Group 40 (HCG 40) is an unusual close-knit collection of five galaxies. This menagerie includes three spiral-shaped galaxies, an elliptical galaxy, and a lenticular (lens-like) galaxy. Somehow, these different galaxies crossed paths in their evolution to create an exceptionally crowded and eclectic galaxy sampler. Caught in a leisurely gravitational dance, the whole group is so crowded that it could fit within a region of space that is less than twice the diameter of our Milky Way's stellar disk. (Hubble Space Telescope)
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5/5 The Terzan 2 is a globular cluster in the constellation Scorpio. Globular clusters are stable, tightly gravitationally bound clusters of tens of thousands to millions of stars found in a wide variety of galaxies. The intense gravitational attraction between the closely packed stars gives globular clusters a regular, spherical shape. As a result, images of the hearts of globular clusters, such as this observation of Terzan 2, are crowded with a multitude of glittering stars. (Hubble Space Telescope)
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Asteroid 2023 AT, as the name suggests, was discovered in 2023 and it belongs to the Apollo group. (WikiMedia Commons)

Countless asteroids keep zooming past the Earth at blistering speeds and close distances, posing potential risk towards the planet. Although these space rocks frequently buzz Earth, most of them burn up in the Earth's atmosphere itself. However, it is not impossible that one of these rocks could impact the planet. But how big of an asteroid would end all life? Well, NASA scientists estimate that an asteroid would have to be about 96 km wide to completely and utterly wipe out everything on the planet.

The smaller asteroids also are destructive as they possess the capability of causing potential damage, especially if they crash in a densely populated area. NASA has now warned that an asteroid is headed for Earth today.

Asteroid 2023 AT info

According to NASA, an asteroid named Asteroid 2023 AT will make its closest approach to Earth today, January 20. It will pass Earth at a close distance of 4.4 million kilometers. In fact, the asteroid is already hurtling towards the planet at a staggering speed of 26039 kilometers per hour, which is nearly twice the speed of a hypersonic ballistic missile! Though this asteroid is not capable of causing much damage due to its relatively small size. NASA estimates it to be 42 feet wide, which is the size of a bus.

According to, the Asteroid 2023 AT was discovered just a week ago on January 13. It belongs to the Apollo group of asteroids and takes 532 days to orbit the Sun during which its maximum distance from the Sun is 241 million kilometers and minimum distance is 143 million kilometers.

NASA NEOWISE telescope to study asteroids

NASA's space-based telescope called NEOWISE has identified hundreds of others while scanning the skies at near-infrared wavelengths of light from its polar orbit around Earth. But the NEOWISE wasn't always built for this purpose.

It was a data retrieval project to get back asteroid detections and characteristics from WISE, a NASA observatory launched back in 2009. NASA repurposed it to track various Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) such as asteroids, and it was named NEOWISE.

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First Published Date: 20 Jan, 11:08 IST
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