Scientists say there is a chance that the monster asteroid (99942) Apophis will collide with the Earth. The statement has been recently made at a conference of the American Astronomical Society. David Tholen, an astronomer from the University of Hawaii, said that the data provided by the Subaru telescope revealed that Apophis, named after the Egyptian god of chaos, showed signs of Yarkovsky acceleration, which scientists say potentially puts the celestial body on a collision course with our planet in 2068.
Whether or not humanity is doomed to meet the humongous asteroid, which is bigger than the Eiffel Tower, astronomers will be able to tell with certainty on Friday 13 (what a coincidence) 2029, when Apophis will whizz past our planet at a very close distance. According to David Tholen, the asteroid will be visible with a naked eye on this date, flying closer to the Earth than some satellites.
After this rendezvous, astronomers will be able to predict the distance the asteroid will approach us in 2068.
"We'll know after that occurs exactly where it was as it passed the Earth, and that will make it much easier for us to predict your impact scenarios. If it passes at just the right distance from the Earth, the gravitational pull of the Earth will change the orbit just enough to have it come back and hit the Earth in ", David Tholen said.
NASA previously said that even if the asteroid survives the journey through Earth’s atmosphere and stays intact as it falls on the planet’s surface, it would cause significant localized damage. However, the space agency emphasized that the damage wouldn't be enough to cause a natural catastrophe.