Astronomers Have Filmed A Giant, Peanut-Shaped Asteroid Flying Through Space — And One Day It Just Might Hit Earth

The Arecibo Observatory. Uploaded to Wikipedia by File Upload Bot (Magnus Manske)

Danielle Andrew 12 Feb 2017, 21:13

The Arecibo Observatory, a huge radio telescope built inside of a Puerto Rican sinkhole, is best known for its efforts to search for radio signals from aliens.

But it's also a powerful radar station that can ping passing objects in space and film the echoes.

Arecibo started doing just that on Sunday, capturing incredible new movies of a fast-moving asteroid dubbed 2015 BN509.

What the images show is kind of adorable: a space rock that looks like a giant peanut.

Just look at it tumble through the void in this animated GIF:

peanut asteroid 2015 BN509 radar animation gif 2 arecibo naic

Here's a closer look at the rotating asteroid that Arecibo scientists recorded:

peanut asteroid 2015 bn509 radar movie animation arecibo nasa nsf

But don't let this cute-looking space rock fool you.

It's not only respectably big, at about 200 meters (660 feet) wide by 400 meters (1,310 feet) long — taller than the Empire State Building in New York — but NASA has also deemed it "potentially hazardous," meaning its orbit through space might one day lead it to smash into Earth.

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