Blazing Briefly: Berlin Witnessed Fastest-Spinning Space Rock Ever Recorded

By: | May 17th, 2024

Visualization of the trajectory and impact of asteroid 2024 BX1. (Image courtesy: European Space Agency)

A Blaze Over Berlin: The Arrival of 2024 BX1

Recent studies have unveiled that an asteroid which penetrated the atmosphere of Germany in January exhibited a rotational speed surpassing that of any previously recorded near-Earth object. Dubbed 2024 BX1, the celestial body entered Earth’s atmosphere ablaze over Berlin during the early hours of January 21, 2024. Discovered just 3 hours before impact, 2024 BX1 wasn’t your typical undetected asteroid.

The Fastest Spin Ever: Insights from 2024 BX1’s Rapid Rotation

Scientists were able to track its path and analyze it before it entered Earth’s atmosphere. Their observations revealed not only its trajectory but also its surprisingly rapid spin. As outlined in a recent paper, this particular asteroid, hurtling at 31,000 mph (50,000 km/hr), was rotating once every 2.6 seconds, marking the fastest spin ever observed for an asteroid.

Understanding Asteroid Spin

The speed of an asteroid’s spin is important because it can tell us about its composition and how it might behave during atmospheric entry. Typically, larger asteroids can’t spin this fast because the centrifugal force would tear them apart. But smaller objects like 2024 BX1 are more resilient and can withstand much faster rotations. Understanding the spin rate of asteroids helps us with planetary defense efforts.

By knowing how strong a small asteroid is, we can better predict how it will react as it travels through our atmosphere. This information is crucial for assessing potential threats and developing mitigation strategies. While 2024 BX1 ultimately broke apart over Berlin, causing no harm, its record-breaking spin has given scientists valuable insights into the nature of these celestial objects.

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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