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NASA spots 'city-killer' asteroid approaching Earth: Viewable through telescopes

NASA spots 'city-killer' asteroid approaching Earth: Viewable through telescopes Asteroid 2013 NK4 will be visible in the night sky (illustration: Freepik)

For the first time in 125 years, the potentially hazardous asteroid 2013 NK4 has approached Earth at its closest distance. Scientists estimate that it could destroy a large city if it were to impact our planet. According to IFLScience, Earthlings can view this giant celestial body through telescopes on the night of April 17-18.

What is known about the asteroid

The Siding Spring Survey first detected the asteroid in 2013. This celestial body has a diameter of 400 to 1000 meters and moves at a speed of 59,000 km/h.

Given its size, NASA classifies it as a "potentially hazardous" near-Earth object, considering the level of damage it and similar bodies could cause if they collide with Earth.

2013 NK4 came closest to Earth on April 15 and passed by our planet at a distance eight times greater than the Moon's. While the asteroid was nearby, NASA captured images of it.

From initial results, the asteroid appears to have a binary contact appearance, where two smaller bodies moved together and collided due to gravitational forces. The asteroid Arrokoth, which the NASA New Horizons spacecraft observed much closer, has a similar appearance.

This asteroid can still be observed on the night of April 17-18. However, a telescope and star chart will be needed to determine its location.

Is there a threat to Earth from a giant asteroid collision?

Astronomers have been able to predict the orbits of known objects for approximately 100 years. According to NASA's predictions, "no known asteroid larger than 140 meters in size has a significant chance to hit Earth for the next 100 years."

"Though we are discovering new objects all the time – sometimes just before they hit – another method has found that we should be safe for the next 1,000 years from the objects we do know about," scientists say.

Earlier, we reported on scientists discovering an asteroid worth $100,000 quadrillion.