U.S. astronomers are warning of a possible asteroid collision with the Earth in 2014. They've discovered a large, fast-approaching asteroid that could hit the earth on March 21st of that year?but the chances of it happening are almost one in a million.
The rock measures approximately two thirds of a mile across, which is one-tenth the size of the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, and it's traveling at a speed of about 20 miles per second. It's been labeled "2003 QQ 47." Astronomer Christine McGourty says, "In theory, such an asteroid could cause devastation across an entire continent."
We reported that the Sun's magnetic poles have flipped but it turns out that's not exactly true?they've only flipped part way. This affects the interstellar dust that's coming our way from outer space.
John Roach writes in National Geographic News that each of these dust particles is about one-hundredth the diameter of a human hair, and everything is made out of them. "All atoms in Earth were in interstellar grains before the solar system formed," says astronomer Donald Brownlee. The mystery is what's happened to the Sun?instead of its poles reversing completely, as expected, they've only rotated halfway around and are now at the Sun's equator.
With unstable poles, the Sun can no longer repel the dust. Instead, the stardust is being drawn towards the Sun, which means it's also heading our way. It could block some of the Sun's rays, cooling down the planet just when we need it. It could mean more dust kittens behind the couch. We do know it means we'll see many more shooting stars in the future. It could also erode the solar panels on spacecraft and knock particles off that asteroid (causing even more dust). Astronomer Markus Landgraf says, "All these effects are not yet observed?but they are expected."
Look up in the sky: Is that stardust, an asteroid?or something else? To learn more, click here and here.
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