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back to article Colossal dead black neo-sphere approaching Earth

A gigantic, spinning, dead black spherical object dubbed YU55 and approximately of the same bulk as a nuclear aircraft carrier is expected to make a close pass by planet Earth on Tuesday night, coming well inside the orbit of the Moon. NEO YU55 imaged by the Arecibo radar telescope. Credit: NASA Looks a bit like that thing from …

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Headmaster

Units !

Yet more uncontrolled proliferation of unitage - Get a grip, Reg.

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IT Angle

No calls unless it's Mr Shadow

It's Mr Shadow.

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Mushroom

Deathstar

Anyone else see the resemblance? Anyone? ANYONE PLEASE! Get the nukes out arrrrggghhhhh.

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Alien

That's not a moon !!

Had to be said

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Alert

"That's no moon"

"I've got a bad feeling about this"

etc

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It's too big to be a space station

etc.

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Coat

New unit of measurement

It seems we have a new UoM. The mass of a Near Earth Objects are measured in terms nuclear aircraft carriers.

YU55, with a NEO with a mass of 1 Gerald R. Ford, will not hit earth.

Mines the one with "Dummy guide to Extinction Events" in the pocket.

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Facepalm

Misleading Units

"same bulk as a nuclear aircraft carrier"

Bulk? do they mean mass? or volume? Which nuclear aircraft carrier? What is it in double decker buses or even brontosauruseseseses

FS Charles De Gaulle, 40,600 tons

The Kiev, 42,000 tons

USS Enterprise (CVN-65): 93,500 tons

Nimitz class: 101,000 tons

The Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to join the U.S. Navy’s fleet in 2015 at a displacement of approx 100,000 tons.

No wonder they keep loosing satellites on Mars

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Headmaster

Nearly right...

Let's just call it "1 gerald" and be done with it (with extra anorak points for the Blackadder reference).

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since my garden pond is too small for a nuclear aircraft carrier, I wonder what that is in bulgarian airbags.

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Alien

cool

Will we be able to see it?

Although, of course in Blighty at this time of year, cloud cover is a dead cert.

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See it?

No. It's black.

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To paraphrase Red Dwarf

You see, the color of space, you basic space color, is black. And the color of YU55, your basic YU55 color, is black. So how are you supposed to see it?

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Anonymous Coward

Black isn't a colour

*trolling

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well, if it is close enough

then you may be able to see it during the day (much like you can see the moon during the day)

or if it is sufficiently black, it could pass in front of something that is not black, like the moon......

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@Armando 123 didn't I read that scientists had concluded last year that the colour of the universe was beige or possibly magnolia.

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Near Earth Object eh?

So

How come the moon is held in orbit by the Earth's gravity, and yet this object of much less density can pass within that orbit and not be affected by. pulled in by, the Earth's Gravity?

Just a thought.

It has to at least be deflected by the gravity effect. I assume it's travelling at a fair speed so will just skim on by....

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Happy

Theres a NASA animation of it crossing the moons orbit

Looks a little like one of those slow motion bullet films, I think it's fair to say that if it collided with us it would be game over man.

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Boffin

Its called momentum

See title.

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Of course it's affected by Earth's gravity.

It will do a hyperbola around Earth, no problem. As opposed to passing in a straight line.

It's actually impossible to see in the app below, because Earth is not super-massive. If there were no Sun, the hyperbola would be really flat:

If oyu haven't uninstalled Java:

http://ssd.jpl.nasa.gov/sbdb.cgi?sstr=2005%20YU55;orb=1 (Select Center on Earth)

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Earth's gravity

It is already being affected by Earth's gravity. Think of it like a rollercoaster, it will roll down one side gathering speed and the up and out of the other side.

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Anonymous Coward

Because

The moon wasn't captured by earth, it formed from the stuff that was already floating around earth. Stop me if I get too technical. Most of the crap that was thrown into space when the other planet hit earth actually landed back on earth, some of it flew off into space but only a small amount had the right speed to start orbitting earth. This all formed together and made le moon. Most stuff that approaches us will either collide with us or sod off again. The speed and angle needed for earth to capture another body is quite unlikely, but possible.

If you had a bowling ball in the middle of a trampoline and you start rolling marbles towards it, it's very hard to get the marbles to do a whole orbit around the bowling ball. Obviously friction would stop it from orbitting for any significant period of time, but you get the idea about trajectory and speed from this simple experiment.

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Boffin

Nah

That's not a mass extinction size. From memory, the collision that did for the dinosaurs was of a rock something around 10 miles across, massively larger than the rock we're talking about here. And even that didn't immediately wipe out the dinosaurs, the final extinction was a slower process around the change in the ecosystem that the impact caused.

Still, you probably wouldn't want to try and catch it....

GJC

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WTF?

coooool! So slingshot?

but will it come back in a short while with Scottsman that talks to mice and a pointy eared fellow with crap 80's dress....er I mean robe.... on?

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Coat

Read a book or two?

a) Of course it is affected by the Earth's gravity, as well the gravity of the Moon, the Sun, and absolutely everything else in the universe that has mass. That includes the dense posts to this forum (electrons have mass before anyone shoots me down).

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Newton%27s_law_of_universal_gravitation if you slept through physics at school, or went to school after the 1980's when they apparently decided science was too hard and we should all study hotel management.

b) The reason the thing doesn't crash in to your head is because it has too much momentum. If you attached a car to a tree with a really long elastic band (office type) and then drove past the tree at 100mp/h, do you think the car would keep going, the tree would fall over or something else would happen? (Answer: the car would speed up a tiny bit as the elastic band contracted, then slow down a tiny bit as the car starts stretching the band again). Not how gravity works, but a reasonable analogy nonetheless.

Eventually the combined gravitational effects of the Sun, Earth and Moon (plus anything else in the solar system the object passes reasonably near by) might alter its orbit enough that the Earth happens to be in the way when the object is passing by. That is no more the Earth 'pulling the object down' than a sniper's bullet is pulled in to your head. Rather it's case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

All that momentum would be transferred in to radiation(heat/light), sound, bits of rock and bits of you flying off in all directons, plus the earth's orbit and rotation would alter a small amount; vastly less than aforesaid car when a gnat splats on the windscreen.

See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angular_momentum

c) No it wouldn't be game over. This object is far to small to have a significant effect. Depending on what it was made from and how fast it was travelling, it would most likely break up in the atmosphere and chunks would hit the ground. There would be an impressive bang and you certainly wouldn't want to be too close to the impact, as tt would leave a crater about a mile wide and a third of a mile deep.

There would be no fireball and if you were (say) 500 miles away, you probably wouldn't even wake up to notice anything had happened. You'd be watching it on the news over your toast if it hit land in an inhabited aread. Most likely it would fall in to the ocean and nobody would even notice.

If you want to play 'End of the world', see: http://impact.ese.ic.ac.uk/ImpactEffects/

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Mushroom

Perchance...

it could hit Yellowstone and trigger the supervolcano, then we may have an "end of the world" event.

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kinda likle lancing a panglobal boil.

yuk

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Re: Near Earth Object eh?

The moon is not held in orbit by the earth's gravity. If you were an alien you would see our world as a dual planet not a single one.

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Facepalm

Are you serious?

It's 400m across - well within "Put a Major Hurting on" but well below "Vaporize all of Blighty"

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That would depend on it's mass and velocity

As of yet we only know it's 'bulk', which suggests volume. 1 Gerald, to be precise.

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Devil

That is one good candidate for capture

I say we grab it. Even if it is not a station now , it can become one.

Much more worthy technological goal than the "expedition to Mars" and stuff. If we manage to get it to L1 or L2 between Earth and Moon it will sit nicely there and be 100 time more useful than a moon base.

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Joke

shouldn't that be

Mr flibble says, game over?

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Alien

Aha! Certainly an Inhibitor sphere.

The only question is, does it have Earth's name on it?

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Ru

Unlikely.

Waaaaaay to slow for an Inhibitor. Way too obvious, too.

And they're only interested in starfaring civilisations; we're quite safe.

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"And they're only interested in starfaring civilisations; we're quite safe."

*Now* you're glad NASA canned the space shuttle...

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Hmmm

Is Mila Jovovich still qualified for being the 5th Element?

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Thumb Up

If she is only wearing a few bandages, she'll do fine for me.

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Anonymous Coward

Bruce Willis on standby

Now we just need some shuttles, what did we do with those?

Oh shi-

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Anonymous Coward

nuclear?

Are nuclear Carriers big compared with normal Carriers?

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Mushroom

Bruce Willis on Standby 2

All we need are the Shuttle AND some massive nukes. Better get them prepped. Oh, wait .....

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Nuking it a bad idea,

Looks more like the object from a different Bruce Willis film, it'll get bigger if we nuke it.

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"Are nuclear Carriers big compared with normal Carriers?"

Yup.

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Boffin

Weight class?

Mass class!

Back to astronomy class!

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Anonymous Coward

no need to worry

if it comes too close, the UK government will tax it back into orbit (or Cameron will make such a vomit inducing statement about its 'well being' that it will leave by itself).

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Joke

Definitely not a meteor

How do you know?

Well... er... it's slowing down.

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Alien

If it starts to slow down as it approaches Earth

Be afraid! Be very afraid!

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Holmes

default

is this one of those things with a tail?

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Happy

That would be-

a dog?

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Anonymous Coward

Delete, delete!

If it's so big and so close, why is the photo so low resolution? Surely a near miss like this is worth training a high orbit satellite on and getting a decent photo?

Or are they scared the public will panic when they see the network of metal surface tunnels and citadels, and the factories of 'spare parts' used by the native inhabitants?

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Low resolution because

if they took hi-res pictures they wouldn't have the excuse to spend lots of wonga sending a camera a further away out of the reach of astronaughties.

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