For the seventh time, a small asteroid has been discovered in space on its way to impact the Earth – reported the European Space Agency (ESA). The entry of the object into the Earth’s atmosphere, tearing through the skies of Europe like a ball of fire, occurred at dawn on Monday. Let’s look at the history of this very rare observation, which led to the sharing of several videos on the social networks.
As the ESA reports, it all started a few hours earlier, when the Hungarian astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky, an asteroid hunter who scans the skies in his telescope installed in an observatory a hundred kilometers from Budapest, located a cosmic rock traveling in space. towards Earth. It was then 20:18 (mainland Portugal time) last Sunday, February 12th.
After obtaining a second observation of the small asteroid, Krisztián Sárneczky reported, at 8:49 pm, the sighting to the Small Planet Center – body of the International Astronomical Union responsible for identifying, designating and calculating the orbits of small planets (such as asteroids), comets and natural satellites in irregular outer orbits of large planets.
Initially, the Hungarian astronomer designated the asteroid he had discovered as Sar2667 and which now has the official name 2023 CX1.
“About 40 minutes later, observations at the Višnjan Observatory in Croatia confirmed the object. At this point, several impact assessment systems [de asteróides ou cometas] around the globe calculated the impact probability to be 100%, expected over the English Channel between 2:00 and 4:00 UTC [a mesma hora em Lisboa]”, reads in site from ESA. “It was estimated that the asteroid was about a meter in diameter and that it did not pose any threat to people and property.”
In the seven hours following the detection of the object, points out the ESA, astronomers around the world were able to follow its trail and indicate its “impact corridor” over the English Channel, whose trajectory would be from west to east. They could then also be ready to take pictures and videos. “Wow”is heard in many videos of the luminous bolide.
At 2:59 am on Monday, February 13, the asteroid – or meteoroid, as fragments of asteroids or comets orbiting the Sun of about one meter in diameter are called – thus entered the Earth’s atmosphere and lit up the sky. Therefore, within the predicted time and location.
The fireball was observed mainly in the south of the United Kingdom and in France, but also in Belgium, the Netherlands and even Germany, reports the ESA. Already the International Meteor Organization (IMO) adds that there have been more than 60 reports of sightings. “It is likely that some fragments of the meteoroid could have survived the trip in the atmosphere and landed somewhere on land, near the north coast of Rouen, in Normandy”, specifies the ESA.
In less than a year, this is the second time that Krisztián Sárneczky has detected a meteoroid coming to hit our planet. In March 2022, the Hungarian astronomer located 2022 EB5, which was then only the fifth detected asteroid to come towards Earth to collide with it. “At the time, I thought it was something that only happened once in a lifetime. I was wrong”, says the astronomer now, quoted by site Space.com.
“The last three predicted impacts have all occurred within the last 12 months, which illustrates how asteroid detection capabilities are advancing rapidly”, underlines the ESA.
About a year ago, the detection of 2022 EB5 had also been a benchmark in the site of the ESA, where it was then asked why only five asteroids had been detected until that time before their impact with Earth. The answer is also for now.
“The news here is positive. Large asteroids, kilometers in diameter, are easier to locate. Although they can cause immense damage, fortunately they are relatively rare”, explained in the site of the space agency, adding that the international community has been identifying the largest asteroids. “Small asteroids are much more common and hit Earth more often, but their impact is smaller and they are harder to locate. All five asteroids located prior to impact have been discovered since 2008, which illustrates how asteroid observation technologies have improved in recent years.”
Just last month, an asteroid was detected just a week before it made a close flyby of Earth. But it was soon realized that this object, the asteroid 2023 BU, from three to eight meters in diameter, would pass around 3500 kilometers from the surface of the planet. Still, it was a safe distance, and if it entered Earth’s atmosphere, it too would eventually disintegrate in a ball of fire.