Reports that NASA is lying about whether a life-threatening asteroid is set to hit Earth next month are fake. NASA has stated that the asteroid poses no risk to our planet, however, clickbait headlines told a different story.
According to Snopes, one such clickbait headline was published on the Daily Mail’s website, claiming that a “doomsday asteroid” would cause mass destruction next month. The source of this information? A conspiracy theorist. The article purports:
The space agency has said the mysterious object will safely pass Earth at a distance of nearly 32 million miles (51 million kilometres) on February 25th.
But one self-proclaimed astronomer has come up with an alternative theory, suggesting the asteroid will crash into Earth on February 16th and trigger a mega-tsunami, according to reports.
Self-proclaimed Russian astronomer Dr Dyomin Damir Zakharovich said it is heading straight towards our planet.
‘The object they call WF9 left the Nibiru system in October when Nibiru began spinning counter clockwise around the sun,’ he said.
‘Since then, Nasa has known it will hit Earth. But they are only telling people now.’
The article, which was picked up by multiple other news outlets (whether fact or fiction), claimed that if the asteroid were to hit the Earth, it would trigger mega-tsunamis or destroy entire cities. Snopes reports, however, that NASA’s study of the celestial object, called 2016 WF9, posed no threat:
An object called 2016 WF9 was detected by the NEOWISE project on Nov. 27, 2016. It’s in an orbit that takes it on a scenic tour of our solar system. At its farthest distance from the sun, it approaches Jupiter’s orbit. Over the course of 4.9 Earth-years, it travels inward, passing under the main asteroid belt and the orbit of Mars until it swings just inside Earth’s own orbit. After that, it heads back toward the outer solar system. Objects in these types of orbits have multiple possible origins; it might once have been a comet, or it could have strayed from a population of dark objects in the main asteroid belt.
2016 WF9 will approach Earth’s orbit on Feb. 25, 2017. At a distance of nearly 32 million miles (51 million kilometers) from Earth, this pass will not bring it particularly close. The trajectory of 2016 WF9 is well understood, and the object is not a threat to Earth for the foreseeable future.
But back to that self-proclaimed astronomer who caused the hysteria by claiming the space agency was lying (or maybe he’s just spouting off “alternative facts“). He may not even exist. Daily Mail notes that he “seems to have only appeared online in recent months” when discussing the “doomsday asteroid” from the fictional shadow planet Nibiru. A similar conspiracy theory claimed the Earth and Nibiru would collide in the fall, thus obliterating life as we know it, which is also false. Though much has been written about the asteroid, all evidence suggests the Earth is in no danger.
While the “doomsday asteroid” poses no risk in the foreseeable future, humanity may be in danger in a much more symbolic way. Thursday morning, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists announced that they were moving the Doomsday Clock 30 seconds closer to midnight, signaling an increase in threats to the planet. Now two-and-a-half minutes away, it warns against the dangers of climate change, nuclear warfare and extreme nationalism.
Social Media Reacts to Doomsday Asteroid
Apparently a doomsday asteroid is coming to wipe out the planet I could not be more excited
— sydney (@sydney_elizz) January 26, 2017
Doomsday Asteroid To Hit Earth In February And Wipe The Human Race Out For Good https://t.co/1aCrVRigOv
— Samuel Mensah (@SammyGreatest) January 26, 2017
— lycanthrophy (@_lycanthrophy) January 26, 2017
Conspiracy theory says world will end in February. https://t.co/4zrfiosDHq
— ⭐Diane⭐ (@rodi1955) January 26, 2017
Die ?? Next month… so technically we have what 21 days to live our lives https://t.co/jJOSu5VyNc
— Nikhil AkA NikyPants (@nick_jram) January 26, 2017
What are your thoughts on the “doomsday asteroid”? Have you seen the conspiracy article circulating social media? Sound off in the comments section below!
Photo credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech (NASA Image of the Day) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
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