Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Bright Near-Earth Asteroid 2012 LZ1

M.P.E.C. 2012-L30  issued on 2012, June 12 announces the discovery of a new Near-Earth object (discovery magnitude 15.1) by R. H. McNaught in the course of the Siding Spring Survey on CCD images taken with the 0.5-m Uppsala Schmidt. This new asteroid has been designated 2012 LZ1.

2012 LZ1 is a large Near-Earth Object (NEO) approximately 300-700 metres in size (H=19.7) and it has been classified as a PHA (Potentially Hazardous Asteroid). PHA are asteroids larger than approximately 100m that can come closer to Earth than 0.05 AU. None of the known PHAs is on a collision course with our planet, although astronomers are finding new ones all the time. 

2012 LZ1 will be at its closest approach with Earth at ~14 lunar-distances (0.036 AU) on June 14, 23:10 UT.

We have been able to follow-up this object from the Haleakala-Faulkes Telescope North on 2012, June 13.5, through a 2.0-m f/10.0 Ritchey-Chretien + CCD.

At the moment of our images from FTN, "2012 LZ1" was moving at about ~33.64 "/min and its magnitude was ~14.2. At the moment of its close approach it will be bright as magnitude ~13.9 and moving at ~38.80 "/min. Anyway, for the following days, it will be bright enough to be imaged by most amateur telescopes. In fact it will drop below magnitude 17 on June 23.

Below you can see a 10-second exposure of  2012 LZ1 obtained with the FTN. The asteroid is slighlty trailed in the image due to its fast speed. Click on it for a bigger version.

Below you can see an animation showing the motion of 2012 LZ1. Each frame is a 10-second exposure through the FTN 2.0-m telescope. Click on the thumbnail to see a bigger version:

UPDATE - July 09, 2012

Using the planetary radar system at Arecibo Observatory, astronomers have determined that asteroid 2012 LZ1 is twice as large as originally estimated based on its brightness, and large enough to have serious global consequences if it were to hit the Earth. However, a new orbit solution also derived from the radar measurements shows that this object does not have any chance of hitting the Earth for at least the next 750 years. Scientists at Arecibo observed the asteroid on June 19, 2012, to measure its orbit more precisely and to determine its size, rotation rate, and shape, and found it to be about 1 kilometer (0.6 miles) in its largest dimension. The new size determination suggests that 2012 LZ1 must be quite dark, reflecting only 2-4% of the light that hits it.

by Nick Howes, Ernesto Guido & Giovanni Sostero


Anonymous said...

Which part of the sky we can find it? any sky map?

Lichtecho said...

Klick on the link At the bottom you can see RA and Dec Coordinates

Mirza Ghalib said...

Only shows that we still have very limited knowledge of space's dangers heading this way. In this case, I don't see what could of been done to stop this rock and the impact would of been a major event, possibly with catastrophic damage/consequences. Scary stuff.

Rayzor Ray said...

Does anyone know if you have to be a paying member of Slooh to be able to view the webcast of this event?

Anonymous said...

One thing that I miss in all these NEO predictions and data are velocities and directions. To make it simple so even an astronomer can understand if you are travelling in two parallel trains each with 100 kmph velocity then their relative speed is 0. If on the other hand if you travel in opposite direction then their relative speed is 200 kmph. If they travel tangent or at an angle then things get even more complicated.

So if a planetoid travels parallel to earth's orbit it doesnt matter it would alight
om earths surface like a papillon on a flower. On the other hand if ....etc.

It gets of course a lot more complicted yet as we are not in a static Descartian plane or even three dimensions but in a
four dimensional matrix with the three + time.

At any rate one would need to know not just the trajectory of the asteroid but also of the Earth. What is the velocity of the Earth in space a known figure and the same for the NEO.

Their meeting may be explosive or
harmless as two tropical fish kissing.

KRoyMaui said...

NASA is devoting more and more of it's time to asteroids and comets, and more collaborations between astronomers, students, and research foundations are speeding up the process in which we gather data to predict close approaches. The problem is that some of these objects are so dark and small that they're not discovered until a few days before their close approach or possible impact. Hopefully more student and citizen scientists will get involved in asteroid tracking, and we'll be able to find an Earth killer early and pull it out of it's orbit with the gravity tractor.