A skull-shaped asteroid or say a comet is estimated to flyby Earth on November 11 at a distance of just 25 million miles which is peanuts according to the astronomical distance standards.
Named as ‘Asteroid 2015 TB145’, the asteroid was nicknamed as ‘The Great Pumpkin’ by officials at NASA when it was first discovered during its last flyby from Earth in October 2015 after Halloween when it passed at a distance of 300,000 miles from Earth which is barely the distance from Earth to Moon and that’s too close.
This is the reason why NASA has classified ‘asteroid 2015 TB145’ as a potentially hazardous asteroid (PHA) citing its orbit which is too close to the Earth this time around. It has a diameter of 600m and resembles a skull and thus, the moniker ‘skull-shaped asteroid’. But even after being classified as PHA, it will not cause any harm to the Earth as said by the researchers.
It is disputed whether it’s an asteroid or a comet since it resembles much like the latter with its unique characteristics which have earned it the moniker of ‘death comet’ too (there’s a lot of names, ain’t it).
According to the researchers, comets usually have icy appearance with a brightly lit tail that helps the astronomers distinguish between a comet and an asteroid but since it appears as a deserted rock with comet-like characteristics, there is a theory that it had lost all its cometary features after flying too close to the sun as it ice converted into gas when it orbited close to the sun. Also, researchers found out that the TB145 asteroid exhibits a feature wherein it reflects 6% of the light from the sun while a typical range of a comet’s reflect index is between 3 to 5%. Although it might seem too feeble, it makes a lot of difference as it is in the space.
Until researchers find the origin of the asteroid, let’s just wait for November 11 when it flybys close to the Earth at a distance of 25 million miles without causing any harm to our planet. The asteroid will scale to a proximity of 5.8 million miles sometime in the year 2088 when it is expected to flyby at the closest distance from the Earth.