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Dublin: 9°C Wednesday 14 April 2021

We are not alone - asteroid discovered in Earth's orbit

Thankfully, this Trojan asteroid poses no danger to the planet.

IT IS LIKE the plot of a science fiction movie: a previously undiscovered asteroid found moving in the same orbit as the Earth around the sun.

But thankfully, this story doesn’t look it will end in the asteroid plummeting into the Earth and destroying all of humankind.

BBC news reports this Trojan asteroid, called 2010 TK7, is 200m – 300m-wide and sits in front of our planet, posing no danger.

It was discovered by a team from Nature journal that went through data on 500 Near-Earth Objects found by NASA’s WISE, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

The 2010 TK7 is about 80 million km from earth but poses no danger of crashing into us – its orbit appears  stable for at least 10,000 years. Trojan asteroids were previously detected at Jupiter, Neptune and Mars, so this discovery means that it is likely more Trojans will be found near earth.

You can’t view a Trojan with an ordinary telescope, however – it was picked up using an orbiting telescope sensitive to infrared light. The University of Western Ontario has a detailed description of what a Trojan is and this one in particular. We like this summation:

Like one of a pair of dancers performing a complicated tango, the asteroid moves in an elaborate path that brings it sometimes closer and sometimes farther from our planet.

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