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The biggest asteroid of the year has passed in the vicinity of the Earth

2001 FO32, an asteroid about one kilometer in diameter, is passing some 2 million kilometers from Earth, more than 5 times the Earth-Moon distance. A boon for amateurs and scientists, who will be able to study its composition.

You probably didn’t realize it, but an asteroid nearly a kilometer in diameter is passing some 2 million kilometers from Earth, just over 5 times the Earth-Moon distance, on Sunday. at the end of the afternoon. If the distance is more than enough so that the visit of 2001 FO32 does not turn into a scenario of a Hollywood disaster film, an amateur telescope is enough to admire this object which spins at 124,000 km / h.

“That’s a pretty bright point”

“With a telescope you can see it pass, it’s a rather brilliant point”, confirms at the microphone of Europe 1 Alain Doressoundiram astrophysicist at the Paris observatory. An observation that will delight amateurs, but also scientists, who will be able to determine its composition by spectroscopy, that is to say by studying the composition of the light that 2001 FO32 reflects.

No risk of collision

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And if official bodies have classified the object as “potentially dangerous”, due to the consequences of a potential impact, there is no risk that it will occur. “It will go south of the solar system for several years”, explains the astrophysicist at the National Center for Space Studies, Francis Rocard. “Then he will come back, but the Earth will have moved [sur son orbite]. The next close encounter with our planet is scheduled for the 2050s, so the probability of an impact is rigorously zero. ”

As a reminder, more than 800,000 asteroids are currently identified, no collision with the Earth is planned for the next century.

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