Astronomers spot asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building that they say could crash into the Earth

Monday, February 13, 2017
By Paul Martin

An asteroid called 2015 BN509 was caught flying past the Earth
Space rock was captured on film by The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico
It is about 200 meters (660ft) wide by 400 meters (1,310ft) long
Nasa warned the giant object is ‘potentially hazardous’

13 February 2017

A peanut-shaped asteroid larger than the Empire State Building could one day hit Earth, Nasa has warned.

The space rock, known as 2015 BN509, came close to Earth last week when it flew past at 44,000mph (70,500km).

At it closest approach, it came just 14 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

Nasa has labelled the asteroid, which about 200 meters (660ft) wide by 400 meters (1,310ft) long, as ‘potentially hazardous’.

For comparison, the Empire State Building is 381 meters (1,250ft) tall.

The asteroid was caught flying close range by a giant radio telescope called the Arecibo Observatory.

Dr Edgard Rivera-Valentín, a planetary scientist with the Universities Space Research Association who studies data from The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, told the Business Insider: ‘The peanut shape comes from the fact that it is a contact binary where the two parts [of asteroids] could not successfully orbit each other and fell back together.

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