Scientists Claim Asteroid 'Snuck Up on Us,' Barely Missing Earth

"It would have gone off like a very large nuclear weapon."

Ida, discovered by the Galileo probe

Image via Getty/QAI Publishing/Universal Images

Ida, discovered by the Galileo probe

Scientists revealed that the planet narrowly evaded a catastrophe after a massive asteroid barely missed Earth.

Asteroid 2019 OK was speeding past Earth last week, traveling at nearly 15 miles per second, according to the Washington Post. The most surprising fact about this reveal is that scientist were unaware of the asteroid's presence until hours before it zoomed past the planet.

"It snuck up on us pretty quickly," Melbourne-based observational astronomer Mike Brownsaid. "People are only sort of realizing what happened pretty much after it’s already flung past us."

Per NASA, the chunk of 187- to 427-feet wide space rock missed Earth by 45,000 miles, which is closer to the planet than the Moon. Scientists dubbed the asteroid the "City Killer" because of the catastrophe it would've caused had it hit Earth.

"It would have gone off like a very large nuclear weapon," Brown said. "Many megatons, perhaps in the ballpark of 10 megatons of TNT, so something not to be messed with."

Despite this, scientists insist that the City Killer was not large enough to create severe climate change in a way that ended the dinosaurs' reign. NASA believes that 90 percent of the asteroids that hit Earth during this time were a mile wide or larger.

"We don’t have to go the way of the dinosaurs," Australian astronomer Alan Duffy explained. "We actually have the technology to find and deflect certainly these smaller asteroids if we commit to it now."

Latest in Life