Asteroids are among the fascinating topics from our marvelous sky. So, what are asteroids? Scientists describe asteroids as rock objects that orbit the sun.
They are much smaller than the Earth and are in the asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter, and has thousands of oddly shaped asteroids.
Asteroids are also known as planetoids or minor planets. Due to Jupiter’s close-up force, they are probably residuals from early planet formation. The study of their composition will tell what the early solar system was like.
Thousands of asteroids are in the belt, but their total collective mass is still significantly less than Earth’s mass.
However, humans are familiar with the doomsday scenario of asteroids hitting the Earth from science and science fiction movies. Indeed bad things will occur. But now, what would happen if an asteroid hit the sun. Let’s find out.
What Would Happen If An Asteroid Hit The Sun?
Nothing would happen. The sun’s mass and heat are so significant that an asteroid on a collision course would be reduced to its atomic components.
Do Asteroids Hit The Sun?
To date, there has been no observation of asteroids hitting the sun. But it doesn’t mean they don’t. It’s hard for asteroids to leave the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
But there are times that something nudges them from their original orbits, and they enter the inner solar system. It can happen due to asteroid orbits changes caused by the Yarkovsky effect.
What is the Yarkovsky effect? It’s simply a force that acts on rotating bodies in space. It happens because of thermal protons’ anisotropic emission, which carries momentum.
Their effect is common to asteroids and meteoroids because their influence is more significant to such bodies.
Jupiter’s influence can also cause asteroids to leave their belt. The planet strongly affects the belt—an interaction between Jupiter’s gravity and the belt causes Kirkwood gaps.
Orbits in this gap aren’t usually stable. Therefore any asteroid whose orbit goes into this region will be pulled into another orbit.
There are no reports of an asteroid hitting the sun and vaporizing. Asteroids are small pieces of metals or rock, making them hard to see when they vaporize.
However, comets release huge glowing gas plumes close to the sun and are thus easier to spot. SOHO satellite has detected and captured several comets, i.e., sungrazers.
The comets get very close to the sun and glow brightly. In the process, some integrate while others survive and move to the outer solar system.
Asteroids Encounter With Earth
There are asteroids classified under the category of near-earth objects. It’s because their orbits bring them closer to Earth. Earth has several notable impact sites, and scientists attribute them to asteroids.
A famous impact site is the Chicxulub crater found in Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. It’s believed that the asteroid’s impact did wipe out the dinosaurs.
On June 30th, 1908, an asteroid, Tunguska, didn’t impact the planet. It did explode some miles above the famous Podkamennaya Tunguska River.
In 2013 there was a similar explosion that made headlines. A near-earth asteroid known as Chelyabinsk did explode in an air blast in Russia, leaving 1500 people seeking medical attention.
What Happens If An Asteroid Hits Our Planet?
The chances of an asteroid hitting planet earth are pretty minimal. NASA tracks 90% of near-earth asteroids, at least 0.8 kilometers wide (half-mile). According to them, none of the asteroids has a chance of hitting the planet.
However, there might be more giant asteroids in space that NASA isn’t aware of. If a mile-wide asteroid hits the Earth, it will strike approximately 30,000 miles of its surface. That’ll be at a speed of around 48,280 km per hour.
An asteroid with such size traveling at that speed is so powerful and will cause massive destruction. Its energy roughly equates to one million megaton bombs.
Imagining one million megatons can be pretty tricky. Here is a better and easier example. If a house-sized asteroid hits Earth at 30,000 miles per hour, the impact will still be catastrophic.
Its energy is roughly equal to that Hiroshima bomb. A house-sized asteroid will indeed flatten reinforced concrete buildings.
The effect will be approximately half a mile from where it hit. It will flatten up to around 1½ mile from ground zero for wooden structures.
However, for an asteroid to wipe out almost everything on the planet, it must be massive, about 11 to 12 kilometers wide. After crushing into Earth, it will create extreme dust plumes.
The dust then envelopes the whole planet blocking the sun and rising temperatures at the place it impacted. Therefore, it will lead to the death of billions of humans and destroy much of the planet’s life.
But according to NASA scientists, some humans will survive. An asteroid that can wipe out life on Earth will be around 60 miles, equating to 96 km wide.
Effects Of Asteroid If It Hits Earth Water
If an asteroid hits the water, there will be heat radiation, acid rain, shock waves, fires, large crater, and giant tsunamis.
All the grain debris from the impact and fire ash will hang out in the atmosphere for some time leading to impact winter.
These will block sunlight from reaching the surface, and ash that falls into the ocean will acidify top layers.
The fires will burn things, kill ocean life, and fire ash and debris blocking the sun will freeze the Earth.
The impact winter will last for approximately two years. Still, not all earth life will die from an enormous asteroid impact.
Even in the asteroid strike that led to the extinction of dinosaurs, some small creatures did survive. With the proper precautions, humans, too, can survive.
How To Protect Earth From Asteroids?
Experts have worried about Earth’s unpreparedness to defend itself from the potential strike of deadly asteroids. NASA is currently researching the best defense method against the deadly asteroids.
Recently it did launch a double asteroid redirection test mission. The role of DART is investigating and deflecting an asteroid movement. It changes an asteroid motion using kinetic impact.
In simpler terms, the DART can change the direction of an asteroid moving towards Earth. NASA also made an upgrade on asteroid hazard software. The fundamental changes allow it to detect any dangerous space rocks better.
Can Asteroid Impact Push The Moon Close To Earth?
The moon is enormous, and the impact of a small object hitting it will be so little on its motion around planet earth. That’s simply because the moon’s momentum overwhelms the object’s impact.
Usually, collisions of most asteroids cause large craters or little. According to scientists, even the most giant asteroid known as Ceres can’t budge the moon.
But if an object with similar velocity and mass to the moon hits the moon, it’ll alter its orbit. However, such an impact will more likely destroy the moon.
If the moon was to orbit near Earth, humans could experience frequent solar eclipses and larger tides.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can a Comet Crash Into Earth?
According to NASA reports, no comet or asteroid’s currently on a collision course with Earth.
Therefore the probability of a comet hitting the Earth is not high. There’s no celestial body that will strike the Earth soon.
What Will Happen If a Comet Hits The Earth?
If a comet hits the Earth, the impact will be pretty destructive. The primary cause of Earth’s distraction will be from gasses released into Earth’s atmosphere.
A comet crush will lead to drastic climate change and massive extinctions across the globe.
What Will Happen If Another Planet Crashes Into Earth?
Compression of two planets’ atmospheres will lead to a bright glow because of the friction, making Earth extremely hot.
Everything on the side of Earth will instantly vaporize. The rest earth’s parts, such as the ground, will become scorching magma.
What Was The Size of The Asteroid That Killed Dinosaurs?
It’s known as Chicxulub impactor. Scientists believe that the asteroid was approximately 9.6 km, i.e., 6 miles.
It led to a crater in the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. The crater spans 90 miles which equates to 145 kilometers.
Can The Moon Crash Into Earth?
It’s exceptionally for the moon to crash into Earth. It will take a colossal object to knock the moon off its orbit.
Plus, the object needs to travel at high speed and hit the moon at the right angle. The moon’s orbit is getting further from Earth, not closer. It means the chance of collision between Earth and the moon is zero.
Can Earth Survive Without Moon?
The moon influences Earth’s life. It has effects on the weather, ocean and our day’s hours. Without the moon, seasons will change, the night will get darker, there’ll be a fall in tide and alteration of our day’s length.
Once planets from around the sun, a star, it’s known as a planetary system. The planet system consists of several planets and includes asteroids, meteoroids, comets, dwarf planets, and natural satellites.
Each body exists separately, but there’s a way they influence each other. The Earth depends on the sun and moon for light and many more.
There have also been interactions of different planet system objects such as the sun and comets, Earth and asteroids, etc. Each interaction has had different effects or outcomes.