Scientists have detected a comet 140 meters in diameter that is due for a fly-by in 2040. There is an outside chance that it could collide with Earth.
The giant rock, known as AG5, has an elliptical orbit that will bring it within striking distance of our planet in 23 years. According to researchers the comet could be diverted towards Earth by a gravitational keyhole – an area of space subject to the gravitational pull of surrounding planets.
Although the chances are slim, the possibility of impact is a little too close for comfort.
“In 2012, AG5 is the object which currently has the highest chance of impacting the Earth in 2040. However, we have only observed it for about half an orbit, thus the confidence in these calculations is still not very high,” said Detlef Koschny of the European Space Agency’s Solar System Missions Division.