Skull-like asteroid is set to fly past Earth after Halloween
New Delhi : NASA scientists have come up with an interesting piece of information about the skull-shaped asteroid which will pass by the Earth on November 11. Nick named as 'Great Pumpkin, the asteroid is about to pass by at around 24 million miles away, somewhat, about a quarter of the distance between the Earth and sun.
The asteroid shaped like skull was first named after the spooky vegetable by scientists at NASA , after it flew past Earth on October 31, 2015. Officially called the TB1456 asteroid, it came as close as 300,000 miles away from the planet back in 2015 - or 1.3 times the distance of the moon from Earth.
This year, it will be heading back this way on November 11, 24 million miles away from the sun.
Scientists have described it as a "death comet", because it's believed to be a dead comet but also because of its unusual skull-like shape.
First spotted by NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) in Manua Kea, Hawaii, it's unnerving features were revealed on detailed radar images taken by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
In 2015, NASA said the comet was approximately 200ft (600 metres) in diameter.
Kelly Fast, IRTF program scientist at NASA, said: "The IRTF data may indicate that the object might be a dead comet, but in the Arecibo images it appears to have donned a skull costume for its Halloween flyby."
Dr James Richardson, a scientist for the Universities Space Research Association, said: "The bright and dark features are an indication of surface irregularities.
"For example, the central dark feature may be a large circular depression, possibly an impact cater."
Vishnu Reddy, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, said: "We found that the object reflects about six per cent of the light it receives from the sun.
"This is similar to fresh asphalt, and while here on earth we that that is pretty dark, it is brighter than a typical comet which reflects only three to five per cent of the light.
"That suggests it could be cometary in origin - but as there is no coma evident, the conclusion is that it is a dead comet."