2017 fireball traced to dust from ominous asteroid

Space Science

MYSTERY WIRE — Meteor showers are one thing, but chunks of a disintegrating asteroid are quite another. Especially when that asteroid measures over a mile across.

A fireball that streaked over Japan on April 29, 2017, was exceptionally bright and slow-moving, according to an account on CNET. Astronomers tracked the orbit of the dust that caused the fireball, and now they are keeping an eye on a binary asteroid that could break up someday.

That would be trouble for Earth. CNET reports on the analysis of asteroid 2003 YT1:

The team believes that at some point in the past, 2003 YT1 cracked under pressure from something called the YORP effect that essentially caused it to twist in an odd way as it rotated. That break in the asteroid, even a small one, can release dust that makes its way to our atmosphere and burns up as fireballs.

Astronomers don’t expect imminent changes in the asteroid — “in the next 10 million years or so” — and their research is available in The Astronomical Journal.

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