Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov

Huge asteroid to adorn night sky next week

A huge asteroid about 600 meters in diameter will fly Earth by next Tuesday, January 28. U.S. astronomers say that asteroid 2007 TU24 will be 540,000 kilometers far from the planet. Scientists exclude a possibility of an impact with planet Earth.

Asteroid 2007 TU24 was discivered in October of 2007 with the help of NASA telescope located in Arizona, USA. It will be possible to observe the asteroid on Tuesday night through telescopes.

Another giant asteroid 2007 WD5 will near Mars at a distance of up to 25,000 kilometers, although an impact is quite possible.

Asteroids of that size collide with planet Earth once in 37,000 years. Such a large space body will fly our planet by next time around the year 2027, U.S. astronomers say.

Asteroids, also called minor planets or planetoids, are a class of astronomical objects. The term asteroid is generally used to indicate a diverse group of small celestial bodies in the solar system that orbit around the Sun.

The vast majority of asteroids are found within the main asteroid belt, with elliptical orbits between those of Mars and Jupiter. It is thought that these asteroids are remnants of the protoplanetary disc, and in this region the accretion of planetesimals into a larger planet or planets during the formative period of the solar system was prevented by large gravitational perturbations by Jupiter. Some asteroids have moons or are found in co-orbiting pairs known as binary systems.

Hundreds of thousands of asteroids have been discovered within the solar system and the present rate of discovery is about 5000 per month. As of January 22, 2008, from a total of 397,495 registered minor planets, 173,116 have orbits known well enough to be given permanent official numbers.

Current estimates put the total number of asteroids above 1 km in diameter in the solar system to be between 1.1 and 1.9 million. The largest asteroid in the inner solar system is 1 Ceres, with diameters of 975×909 km. Two other large inner solar system belt asteroids are 2 Pallas and 4 Vesta; both have diameters of ~500 km. Vesta is the only main belt asteroid that is sometimes visible to the naked eye.

Prepared by Dmitry Sudakov