"NASA says huge, 'potentially hazardous' asteroid will break into Earth's orbit next week" reads a headline from The Hill posted on December 1st. "ROCKY HORROR: Giant asteroid will skim Earth’s orbit tomorrow in hair-raising near miss" reads another headline posted on December 9th in The Scottish Sun. These are some of the many headlines describing 4660 Nereus, an asteroid that is around 1,083-feet long (330-meter), which will come within 2.4 million miles (3.9 million km) of Earth on Saturday, December 11th, 2021. This distance is still about 10 times farther away than the moon.
Peter Vereš, an astrophysicist at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, has given Newswise some responses to some of these headlines.
Headline from The Federal: An asteroid will fly past Earth on December 11. Should you be worried?
"No - we shouldn't. There is a zero risk that this object will hit the Earth. Its orbit does not intersect with the orbit of the Earth."
Headline from The US Sun: Giant asteroid will skim Earth’s orbit tomorrow in hair-raising near miss...
"It is a close approach, not a near-miss. 3.9 million kilometers is not even that close, that is 10-times as far as the Moon. There are several objects flying near the Earth at much closer distances right now, although the objects are much smaller."
Headline from HT Tech: Giant Nereus asteroid to skim Earth’s orbit! Are we in danger? Look what experts say
"The current orbit of Nereus does not allow the object to hit the Earth. We cannot rule out that it won't hit the Earth in the next hundreds of thousands years, but that's distant future and a statistical guess."
Headline from the Scottish Sun: Giant asteroid will skim Earth’s orbit tomorrow as experts warn it could wipe us out...
"It would not wipe us out - it's estimated diameter is about 300 meters, so it would cause a continental disaster - if there is an object of that size on the collision course - which is not the case for Nereus."
Headline from The Hill: NASA says huge, 'potentially hazardous' asteroid will break into Earth's orbit next week
"The asteroid is not going to "break into Earth's orbit", it will fly around the Earth at approximately 3.9 million km distance. The asteroid is in its own heliocentric orbit that has nothing to do with the Earth's orbit and will definitely not go into an orbit around the Earth."