Astronomers have tracked a fireball over Japan in 2017,media reported. At around 1 a.m. local time on April 29, 2017, an unusually bright and slow fireball lit up the sky over Kyoto, Japan. Later, a team of researchers at the National Observatory of Japan (NAOJ), Kyoto University of Technology (KSU) and the Japan Meteor Society found that the fireball orbited similar to that of the 2003 YT1 binary.
“We found out the true identity of the fireball,” Toshihiro Kasuga, a visiting scientist at NAOJ and KSU, said in a press release Wednesday. “
The study was published Monday in The Independent Journal.
The team believes that at some point in the past, 2003 YT1 ruptured under a pressure called the Yarkovsky effect, which caused YT1 to twist in a strange way as it rotates. An asteroid impact — even a small impact — releases dust and enters the atmosphere and burns in the form of a fireball.
Although most dust particles do not cause harm to Earth when they burn in the atmosphere, if YT1 splits into smaller asteroids in 2003, it could eventually pose a threat.
Kasuga noted that the rock’s potential rupture could threaten life on Earth, and that it could hit Earth in the next 10 million years or so.