Five asteroids are set to fly past the planet today — two of them are bigger than the Eiffel Tower

Five asteroids are set to fly past the planet today — two of them are bigger than the Eiffel Tower
Two asteroids bigger than the Eiffel Tower are set to zoom past Earth on January 6, and one of them is nearly half-a-kilometre wideMaxpixel
  • Five asteroids are set to make a close approach to Earth today, on January 6.
  • Two of the asteroids — 2016 CO247 and 2008 AF4 — are bigger than the Eiffel Tower.
  • Even the smallest of the five asteroids, 2021 AJ, is travelling fast enough to release as much energy as the Hiroshima bomb blast if it were to crash into the planet.
It’s a new year, but the life-ending threats facing the planet are still the same. Five asteroids are set to make a close approach to Earth on January 6, according to the Central for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).

Three of the asteroids are relatively small and pose a smaller threat to the planet if they were headed straight for it. However, the other two are bigger than the Eiffel Tower.

The bigger of the two, 2008 AF4, is nearly half a kilometre wide. If it were to crash into the planet, the resulting impact would be the equivalent of 25 megatons to 50 megatons, the same as the largest nuclear bombs in existence today.

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Asteroids that will make a close approach to Earth on January 6:
Asteroid Time (GMT)Average diameterSpeed (kilometres per hour)
2021 AC03:2773.5 metres50,652 kmph
2016 CO24704:09340 metres60,228 kmph
2021 AJ11:3819.5 metres45,648 kmph
2018 KP113:2141 metres15,948 kmph
332446 (2008 AF4)21:52495 metres39,564 kmph
Source: CNEOS

While size certainly matters when it comes to determining whether or not an asteroid poses an imminent threat, it’s speed can greatly alter the level of risk.

All it would take is an asteroid that’s as big as a house travelling at 48,000 kilometres per hour to release as much energy as the Hiroshima bomb blast.
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This means that even though Asteroid 2021 AJ is the smallest among those set to zoom by Earth on January 6, it’s still fast enough to obliterate an entire city if its trajectory changes.

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), none of these asteroids — big or small — are an immediate threat. They are being tracked because they’re either closer to Earth than 7.5 million kilometres, which is 19.5 times the distance between the Earth and the Moon, or because they’re bigger than 150 metres.

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