Within the early morning of April 28, 2017, a small fireball crept throughout the sky over Kyoto, Japan. And now, due to data collected by the SonotaCo meteor survey, researchers have decided that the space rock was a shard of a massive asteroid that may threaten Earth.
The meteor that burned over Japan was small. Studying the SonotaCo data, the researchers decided that the object entered the atmosphere with a mass of about 1 ounce and was just 1 inch. It did not threaten anyone. However, small meteors like this are impressive as a result of they will offer data on the significant objects that spawn them. Also, in this case, the researchers tracked the little rock back to its parent, an object known as 2003 YT1.
2003 YT1 is a binary asteroid, formed of one large rock about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) throughout orbited by a smaller asteroid that is 690 ft (210 meters) long. Discover in 2003; the binary system has a 6% chance of hitting Earth at some point within the next 10 million years. That makes the object what researchers name a “potentially hazardous object,” although it is unlikely to harm anyone in your lifetime.
There are other, more unique possibilities, the authors wrote. Water ice could be turning from solid to gas one of the asteroids’ surfaces, including changing as tiny balls of ice in open space. However, that and other fashions are unlikely, the researchers mentioned.
Now we know that big asteroid has been visited Earth. And that little piece is likely part of a stream of other small items that sometimes enter the Earth’s atmosphere unnoticed. And at some point far down the street, that big asteroid may comply with its young children and slam into Earth. That fireball can be much, much bigger.