26 May 2019: Soon, a humongous asteroid will zoom past Earth
In a few hours from now, space enthusiasts will have the opportunity to see a rare kind of asteroid, one flying with its own moon.
Yes, a humongous binary asteroid pair will zoom past Earth, making up what has been dubbed as one of the closest flybys of this kind in the recent history.
Here's everything about the rare event.
Flyby: Rare binary asteroid to make an appearance
Astronomers have confirmed that an asteroid called '1999 KW4' will fly past Earth in the early morning hours of May 26, at around 4:35 am (IST).
While asteroid flybys happen all the time, this one has drawn our attention because 1999 KW4 is not flying alone.
It's zooming at 80,000 kilometers per hour with a small companion, another space rock, in tow.
Size: Notably, the asteroids are pretty humongous
The larger asteroid in the duo is nearly 4,800 feet wide, which is way bigger than a regular warehouse.
NBC News reports that it is shaped like a rapidly spinning top and boasts of a prominent ridge on its equator.
Meanwhile, the smaller one is a third of its size (approximately 1,600 feet wide) and orbiting merely 2.5 kilometers away.
Impact: Is there any threat to Earthlings?
While the asteroids are ginormous and will be coming closer to Earth than any other binary asteroid pair has in the recent history, they'll be flying past safely.
Scientists say that the space rocks will be 4.8 million kilometers away from Earth at their closest approach during the upcoming flyby.
For some perspective, this is even farther than the distance between Earth and Moon.
Advantage: Observations will be critical for planetary defense
You won't be able to see 1999 KW4 with the naked eye, but astronomers around the world will be using several Earth and space-based telescopes to take a close look at the duo.
The study would give more insight into the structural integrity and composition of the rocks, thereby helping scientists boost planetary defense techniques and be better prepared for destroying asteroids.