'One-in-625 chance': Asteroid may hit Earth on Valentine's Day 2046
An asteroid on a possible trajectory to collide with Earth in 23 years' time has raced to the top of the European Space Agency's risk list.
2023DW, as it has been named, is now the most likely extraterrestrial object of substantial size to collide with Earth.
The rock has a one-in-625 chance of hitting our planet on Valentine's Day 2046.
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2023DW, discovered on February 26 this year, is about 50m in diameter, but that estimate could change when astronomers get a closer look at it.
For comparison, the asteroid is about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, and would make an almighty splash if it landed in one.
Academics from Harvard, Purdue and Imperial College London created an app showing what the impact of various asteroids would be on certain cities.
If 2023DW crashed into the Sydney CBD, it would likely destroy almost all wood-framed buildings from Cronulla to Palm Beach to Blacktown.
Glass windows would be damaged from Wollongong to Newcastle.
For those outside that blast zone, there wouldn't be a tremendous impact. The impact would not noticeably change the Earth's axis or shift the planet's orbit.
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So how worried should we be?
We shouldn't be, at least according to the Torino Impact Hazard Scale determined by the International Astronomical Union.
On a scale of one to 10, 2023DW is a 1, which means "the chance of collision is extremely unlikely with no cause for public attention or public concern".
By contrast, a 10 on the scale is of a certain collision "capable of causing global climatic catastrophe that may threaten the future of civilisation as we know it".
Despite this, 2023DW is the most threatening asteroid astronomers are currently aware of. All other asteroids in the system are ranked at zero.
So even in the remote possibility the asteroid strikes Earth, it probably won't land anywhere near you. So you should probably make a reservation or buy some flowers, because you aren't getting out of Valentine's Day.
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