An enormous 3-mile wide asteroid could strike the Earth next month – just one week before Christmas day.
The asteroid, named “3200 Phaethon” after the Greek God, is scheduled to fly dangerously close to our planet on December 17.
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Daily Star reports: Russian astronomers have been tracking the asteroid’s path, which has been described by NASA as a “potentially hazardous asteroid”.
It will pass by Earth at a distance of just 2 million miles – practically brushing the planet in space terms.
And at three miles wide, it is just half the size of the space rock that led to the mass extinction that wiped out dinosaurs.
3200 Phaethon is particularly special because it has aspects of both an asteroid and a comet.
Scientists previously spotted dust pluming from behind it, which is reminiscent of the resembles melting ice tails that trail most comets.
The Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, in Konigsberg, Russia, which is tracking the asteroid, said in a statement: “Apparently, this asteroid was once a much bigger object.
“But its many approaches to the sun have caused it to crumble into smaller pieces which eventually formed this meteor shower.
“If so, the asteroid itself could be the residue of a comet nucleus.
“The asteroid’s extremely elongated orbit, thanks to which it sometimes gets to the Sun closer than Mercury and it sometimes moves away farther than Mars, is another argument in favour of this theory.”
The space rock takes its names from the son of the Greek sun god Helios, Phaethon, because of how close it will pass by the sun.
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