New Delhi: An asteroid, listed as a potentially hazardous object, will pass in close proximity to the earth at noon on Wednesday. The space rock, however, poses no danger of impacting the earth. The asteroid "4179 Toutatis", will fly by earth at a distance of 69,31,175 km, N Sri Raghunandan Kumar Director and Secretary of Planetary Society India said.
The asteroid will come close to earth on December 12 at 12:10 pm. The space rock, about 5.4 km in size, is moving at a speed of 11.9 km/sec, he said. A potentially hazardous object (PHO) is a near-earth asteroid or comet with an orbit such that it has the potential to make close approaches to the earth and is of a size large enough to cause significant regional damage in the event of an impact.
The asteroid was discovered in January 4, 1989, and was named after the Celtic god worshipped in ancient Britain as Toutatis/Teutates (the tribal protector). The space rock orbits sun after every 1,469 days. The next time it will have closest approach is on December 29, 2016 and would be 3,75,78,442 km away.
The last time it came close to earth was on November 9, 2008 and at 75,16,979 km. After 2016, this asteroid will not pass close to earth again until 2069. Asteroids are a class of small solar system bodies in the orbit around the sun. The larger asteroids have also been called planetoids.