How to Avoid Fake News About Asteroids

A simple Google search that includes the word asteroid will offer a veritable tsunami of titles that herald the apocalypse, anticipating the arrival of an asteroid that could wipe entire continents or generate a tsunami on a global scale.

They often tend to appear on sites that rely on the clickbait formula to attract unsuspecting readers. The clickbait formula involves the use of a title that is very dramatic to convince people to access the article, but in reality, the article itself does not offer anything remarkable, and it can be quite underwhelming.

A 2-miles asteroid passed recently by our planet, and the internet was flooded with articles that mentioned that it could crash into the Earth or the moon, bringing devastating consequences and altering life as we know it forever. In reality, the asteroid passed by Earth at a distance of 1.4 million miles, up to 6 times bigger in comparison to the distance between Earth and the moon.

In most cases, the headlines also abuse the language used by researchers to describe and classify some of the objects which are mentioned. The constructs near-earth object (or NEO) and potentially hazardous asteroid (or PHA) are used by experts to describe specific objects. For example, if an asteroid comes within 4.6 million miles away from Earth and features a particular level of brightness it will be classified as a PHA.

This system allows astronomers to create catalogs and keep track of specific objects. There will be no special evaluations that lead to the decision to grant a particular classification. NEOs are in a similar situation as they are even broader. If someone traveled from the sun and traveled 85% of the distance between the Sun and Mars every object encountered along the way can be deemed to be a NEO.

It is also advised to check the authenticity of the source that inspired the article, since it may also reveal the actual truth.

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