Asteroid Apophis: Scientists meet to discuss potential 2068 collision

Last month, an astronomer from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA) revealed that he 370-metre wide asteroid could still hit Earth. Scientists had initially ruled out the 2068 collision, but the research showed there is a minute chance - roughly one in 530,000 - the asteroid Apophis could hit Earth. The new study was announced following the detection of a small Yarkovsky acceleration on the surface of the asteroid.

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The Yarkovsky effect is when an asteroid or celestial body changes its orbit due to small push of heat, either from itself expelling gasses, or the gravitational push and shove from celestial bodies including the Sun and Earth.

In this instance, the scientists have discovered a small thermal reaction which could slightly alter Apophis's course, and send it Earth-bound.

A statement from the University of Hawai'i said: "All asteroids need to reradiate as heat the energy they absorb from sunlight in order to maintain thermal equilibrium, a process that slightly changes the orbit of the asteroid.

"Prior to the detection of Yarkovsky acceleration on Apophis, astronomers had concluded that a potential impact with Earth in 2068 was impossible.

Asteroid Apophis: Scientists meet to discuss potential 2068 collisionAsteroid Apophis: Scientists meet to discuss potential 2068 collision (Image: GETTY)

asteroidsAsteroid Apophis: The space rock could hit in 2068 (Image: GETTY)

"The detection of this effect acting on Apophis means that the 2068 impact scenario is still a possibility.

"Further observations to refine the amplitude of the Yarkovksy effect and how it affects Apophis' orbit are underway.

"Astronomers will know well before 2068 if there is any chance of an impact."

However, Apophis will have a close flyby of Earth in 2029,

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