Out in interstellar space, asteroid Apophis is getting faster on its rendezvous with planet Earth soon in 2068. Other factors are causing scientists to think this might be a close shave.

According to the researchers from the University of Hawaiʻi Institute for Astronomy (IfA), the space rock is about three-and-a-half football fields significant in size. Another is the acceleration not only caused by gravity but non-uniform thermal radiation. It is like a mini-rocket that adds velocity to the already speeding celestial body, reported Meaww.

The Yarkovsky effect influences Apophis was revealed by observations made by scientists. When asteroids are under the influence of this effect, they rotate; staying in their orbits is chaos. Exposed surfaces will heat up due to friction; at nightfall, the heat dissipates as radiation is given off. It acts as a natural thruster effect like a rocket engine.

 If asteroids are affected that way, chaotic orbits will happen, not how to predict if it will hit in 2068. It might speed up or down, and there is no way to tell its exact speed. To understand these radiation jets, NASA sent the Bennu probe called Osiris Rex. Surveyed the asteroid and made a detailed analysis.

The detection of the Yarkovsky acceleration on the Apophis verified. It speeded up as the non-uniform thermal radiation pushed it forward. Radiation affects the celestial body as it will determine how possible impact can happen in 2068.

NASA made the calculations and speculates that the asteroid has a slim chance of striking the Earth. Determining the exact location is an imprecise guessing game where the asteroid's position will be about Earth. A chance of impact is far from possible.

Also read: White Dwarfs Might Be the Place to Find Alien Life

Asteroid Apophis

The celestial object was first detected on June 19, 2004, by Roy Tucker, David Tholen, and Fabrizio Bernardi using the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. Discovering the Yarkovsky acceleration on Apophis came before a probable collision with the Earth in 2068. Finding the influence of the radiation propulsion made the scientist reassess their prior hypothesis. The impact is not a sure thing, but it can happen.

Scientists say that in 2029 wherein the space rock will come close to 2029. New observations with the Subaru telescope verified that it was accelerating with the Yarkovsky effect. Adrift is registered caused by gravitation at 170 meters a year, it still makes a 2068 impact slight.

According to Tholen, who has been tracking the asteroid since 2004, other observations are still underway. Eventually, the data, if there is an impact or not, will be known. One assumption is Apophis will be a flyby on April 13, 2029.

Most agree the asteroid will pass by Earth in 2029 as a harmless flyby at an approximate distance of 19,800 miles (31,900 kilometers) from the planet's surface, considered a safe distance that comes between the Earth and its moon. This is a rare event in celestial terms that is will be observed by scientists.

When Asteroid Apophis starts is rare flyby, the celestial object will move in the night sky over parts of the Earth in a spectacular fashion. A rare visit from something traveling in deep space.

Related article:  End of the World: NASA Preps for Possible Asteroid Hit on Earth