Astronomers say an asteroid the size of the Empire State Building that flew by our planet earlier this month had a sidekick.
The incoming asteroid, known as 2002 PZ39, is taller than the Burj Khalifa tower and hurtling through space at almost 55,000 kilometres per hour, according to NASA’s Center for Near-Earth Object Studies (CNEOS).
PZ39 is wide enough and nearly heavy enough to fit NASA’s definition of a “potentially hazardous asteroid,” which has prompted some amateurs to worry it might be a threat to the planet.
“Hey NASA can you confirm or deny this potential collision?” one user tweeted at NASA’s Asteroid Watch account on Wednesday. The question appeared to be a response to several U.K.-based reports of a close call with a “planet-killer” asteroid.
“Those stories are incorrect,” Asteroid Watch replied. “There are no concerns with asteroid 2002 PZ39 passing Earth.”
The asteroid is due to zoom past the planet on Saturday, Feb. 15, according to NASA data. However, the fly-by is only close by space measurements, as it’s projected to come no closer than 5.8 million kilometres to Earth.