Sunday, April 14, 2024
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    HomeScienceAsteroid crashes into Earth over Germany just hours after being discovered

    Asteroid crashes into Earth over Germany just hours after being discovered

    A small asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere Sunday morning and lit up the sky over eastern Germany. Videos of the incident have gone viral on social media, depicting a glowing object descending over Europe. Experts later confirmed that the light came from a disintegrating meteorite.

    According to astronomers and observers, the 2024 BX1 asteroid, which was temporarily designated as Sar2736, landed outside Berlin near Nennhausen at around 1:30 am local time. Hungarian astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky was the first one to discover the approaching asteroid several hours before its impact, according to The International Astronomical Union.

    NASA also confirmed the incident at least 20 minutes before its impact. “Heads Up: A tiny asteroid will disintegrate as a harmless fireball west of Berlin near Nennhausen shortly at 1:32am CET. Overseers will see it if it’s clear!,” the space agency wrote.

    The incident marked the eighth time that an asteroid was discovered before hitting the Earth and the third time that Krisztián Sárneczky discovered it. Sárneczky is a well-known ‘asteroid hunter,’ having discovered minor planets and other space objects headed toward our planet, including two asteroids that respectively fell over France in 2023 and the Arctic Ocean in 2022.

    How large was the asteroid?

    The asteroid measured approximately 1 metre from end to end, according to Denis Vida, a PhD associate specialising in meteor physics at Western University in Canada. Vida is also the brain behind the Global Meteor Project, a mission to enhance meteor observation globally through a cooperative network of cameras directed towards space.

    Denis Vida shared an impressive video clip of the descending asteroid, originally recorded by a livestream camera positioned in the German city of Leipzig. The footage was posted on X. In his accompanying remarks, Vida speculated that the asteroid might have released meteorites upon reaching the Earth’s atmosphere and breaking apart. In further clarification provided to CBS News via email, Vida noted that the asteroid began to disintegrate at a location approximately 50 kilometres (about 30 miles) west of Berlin.

    Asteroid named by minor planet centre

    Initially dubbed Sar2736, the asteroid underwent an official naming process by the International Astronomical Union’s minor planet centre.

    The designation given to it became 2024 BX1, as reported by EarthSky. Notably, the minor planet centre, supported by a grant from NASA’s near-earth object observation program, plays a crucial role in collecting comprehensive data on comets and the “outer irregular natural satellites of major planets.” 

    (With inputs from agencies)

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