Currently, there are approximately more than 300,000 still-unidentified asteroids located too close to the Earth, which could cause extensive damage by crashing into the planet or exploding in the sky. Just this January alone, the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey discovered a massive asteroid flew by Earth at about 50% the distance to the moon. The asteroid, dubbed 2017 AG13, was easily the size of a 10-story building at 15 to 34 meters long and whizzed past the planet's orbit at a record speed of 16 kilometers per second.
Astronomy broadcast provider Slooth made a live broadcast of the flyby at 7:47 am E.T. on January 9, Saturday. Astronomer Eric Edelman said the asteroid crossed the orbits of Venus and Earth in the process. While a simulation by Purdue University claimed that the impact would have been underwhelming, experts at Slooth said the size of 2017 AG13 was roughly the same as the 17-meter asteroid that struck Chelyabinsk, Russia in 2013. The effects of the 2013 asteroid impact left the Russian city with shattered windows, dented buildings and personal injuries. In 1908, a massive asteroid about 40 meters wide struck a Russian forest flat with a force similar to detonating about five to 10 megatons of TNT.
Data also showed that if an asteroid the size of the 984-foot-wide 2015 BN509 hit San Francisco, the resulting deaths would total to more than 7 million, while the fireball radius may stretch over eight miles. Researchers said buildings located at 26 miles from the site will be instantly flattened, while radiation can be imminent in areas up to 9.38 miles from the impact site. Thermal radiation may extend up to more than 217 miles, easily affecting residents of Reno and Lake Tahoe. Building within 26.25 miles were expected to be instantly demolished. In this scenario, researchers inferred that half of the probable impact may occur in the pacific Oceans, which in turn may generate massive tsunamis with enough power to wipe out coastal areas.
In another scenario, researchers found that a 1,805-foot-wide asteroid hitting Chicago would account for more than 9.5 million deaths, generating a thermal radiation radius of 267.94 miles. This is enough to cover a wide area of land that may stretch as far as the Cedar Rapids, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, St. Louis and Louisville. The impact will instantly demolished buildings within 31.07 miles, and may continue to affect infrastructure within an 82.03 mile radius. The fireball radius was estimated to be at 10.10 miles, while radiation radius was expected to stretch to up to 10.33 miles.
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