Recently, NASA scientists revealed that the asteroid named 332446 (2008 AF4) came close to the planet Earth. NASA referred to it as “potentially hazardous.”

The asteroid made its way into the solar system. It is 408 wide with a speed of 39,600 kilometers per hour or 11 kilometers per second.

332446 (2008 AF4) is a sub-kilometer asteroid. The asteroid is classified as the potentially hazardous of the group Apollo and a near-Earth object (NEO). It was listed on the Sentry Risk Table in January 2008 with a rating of 1 on the Torino Scale. 2008 AF4  has a chance of 1 in 71,000 to impact the Earth on 9 January 2089. The risk factor powered down to 0 in February 2008. However, the risk factor on the Torino Scale was back at 1 in 28,000 chance in March 2008. The asteroid was removed from the Sentry Risk Table on 19 December 2009. But, scientists are still worried about its future impact on our only living planet.

NASA believes that the 2008 AF4 could be a “potentially hazardous object.” A potentially hazardous object (PHO) does not mean that it could cause any threat to the Earth. Well, somewhere down the line in the solar system’s future, it could collide with our planet.

PHO could either be a comet or an asteroid that is large enough to cause some severe damage but with minimal orbital intersection distance. Around 98% of the PHO are not a threat for the future 100 years.

Many factors can affect the intersection distance, including the gravitational pull of the other celestial bodies. NASA said PHOs are now defined on the parameters to make close threatening to the Earth. And all objects or asteroids with less or equal to the minimum orbit intersection distance of 0.05 au are considered PHO.

The asteroids and comets have attracted scientific interest as these are the bits and leftover pieces of the solar system. A majority of these leftovers orbit beyond the planet Neptune. They make sweeping orbits around the sun.

If the scientists want to know the composition of the planets, they must discover the construction and chemical components of the remaining debris. On NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), the scientists wrote, “NEOs that have been poked by the gravitational attraction of nearby planets which permit them to enter the Earth’s surrounding.”

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