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Fireball That Lit Up Kyoto Skies Was From 2003 YT1 Asteroid, Could Hit Earth

Scientists have revealed that a fireball that lit up the Japanese skies two years ago was a part of a big asteroid that is a member of the Earth-crossing group of Apollo asteroids. They said that it might hit the Earth one day. Earlier in April 2017, the asteroid burned up in the skies over the Japanese city of Kyoto. The asteroid was, however, smaller than a ping pong ball. Japanese scientists wanted to know where the tiny asteroid came from. They decided to map its trajectory and found that it matched up with 2003 YT1. The 2003 YT1 asteroid was discovered on December 18, 2003, by astronomers at the Catalina Station near Tucson, Arizona in the United States, and therefore it was named 2003 YT1. It is a binary asteroid that orbits the Sun at a distance of 0.8–1.4 AU every 427 days in the region of space similar to Earth. Astronauts have classified it as a potentially hazardous object. According to them, there is a 6% chance that the object will hit the Earth sometime in the next 10 million years. Although a six percent chance is minimal, scientists feel that it is enough to deem it potentially hazardous.

Scientists, however, couldn’t reveal how it split off 2003 YT1 in 2017. They said that it was a loose clump of rocks that spins around every couple of hours. It is also possible that it was just flung into Earth’s space.

The 2003 YT1 is a bright asteroid. It is so huge that it has its own moon. The 210-meter sized moon was discovered in 2004 at Arecibo Observatory. Classified as near-Earth object and potentially hazardous asteroid of the Apollo group, 2003 YT1 is approximately 1.2 miles in diameter. Apollo group asteroids are the largest cluster of near-Earth objects with roughly 10,000 known members. Earlier in 2007, it was even deemed a minor planet by scientists. But it is yet to be given a catchier name.