Hungarian astronomers detected a new asteroid on Friday March 11: 2022 EB5, between two and four meters in diameter. Within two hours, it slammed into Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated near Jan Mayen, a remote Norwegian island. This is the fifth time that an object of this type has been discovered shortly before entering the gaseous layer of our planet.
Until now, only four asteroids (2008 TC3, 2014 AA, 2018 LA and 2019 MO) were known to have impacted the Earth’s atmosphere shortly after their discovery, but now another is added: 2022 EB5, as confirmed by the Minor Planet Center of the International Astronomical Union (IAU).
“We observe this new asteroid at 8:25 p.m. (Spanish peninsula time) on March 11, 2022 from the Piszkéstető station of the Konkoly Observatory, in Hungary“says astronomer Krisztián Sárneczky.
About an hour later, an alert was sent to other European observers, encouraging them to keep an eye out for the small object before it entered our planet’s gaseous layer. Data was also provided to predict the location and time of impact (around 10:23 p.m. on Friday March 11).
Less than two hours after detecting its trail from Hungary, asteroid 2022 EB5 collided with Earth’s atmosphere southwest of the island of Jan Mayen in the Norwegian Sea, in an area north of Iceland and east of Greenland.
Impact! When 2022 EB5 hit Earth north of Iceland this morning, it became the 5th asteroid to be discovered before impacting Earth. pic.twitter.com/kYsQ40uuFq
— Tony Dunn (@tony873004) March 12, 2022
“This rocky object produced a gust of air at a height of about 20-30 km and broke up; only small fragments could have fallen into the Norwegian Sea“says Sarneczky.
Around the predicted time of impact, some observers in northern Iceland (near Akureyri) reported seeing a bright flash on the horizon. Soon after, signals caused by the asteroid’s entry were recorded at infrasound stations in Greenland and Norway.
Infrasound detection from the 2022 EB5 impact off the coast of Iceland at I37NO between 2223 and 2227 UTC. Below is I18DK infrasound data in Greenland. Arrival around 2340 UTC. From these data, the yield is about 2-3 kT TNT. At 15 km/s, it’s about 3-4 m in diameter. @WesternU #2002EB5 pic.twitter.com/FYI9jn7zCb
— Peter Brown (@pgbrown) March 12, 2022
According to Professor Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario (Canada), these signals make it possible to estimate the total energy of the event at around 2 kilotonnes of TNT. This allows us to calculate that the asteroid’s entry speed was about 18 km/s for an object with a diameter of about two meters or 15 km/s if it was between three and four meters.
The data at the moment is provisional, but in any case it was a small asteroid and did not represent any danger: “The Earth’s atmosphere protects us from asteroids a few meters in diameter“, reassures Sarneczky.