A huge asteroid that could one day hit the Earth in a devastating impact, mysteriously spits out rocks.
The so-called "Doomsday" asteroid - Bennu throws meter-long boulders into space and NASA is puzzled. Bennu fell into disrepute after he was declared a "dangerous object" by astronomers.
Late last year, NASA's Osirix-Rex probe arrived at Benn and began flying around it, transmitting images and data to scientists. And the researchers made an unexpected discovery: Bennu from time to time "dumped" large chunks of material into space.
Then these particles either briefly entered Bennu's orbit and fell back to its surface, or flew into space.
“No one has ever seen an active asteroid as close as this one,” said Karl Hergenrother, an astronomer at the University of Arizona.
Not so long ago, the generally accepted view was that asteroids are dead bodies that do not change."
Some of the chunks of material moved at a speed of 3 meters per second and were detonated during “ejection events”.
The largest of these events occurred on January 6, when 200 individual pieces were thrown away. Further research should establish the true cause of this phenomenon.
The Osiris-Rex probe is due to land on Bennu in 2023 to collect samples before returning to Earth.
The other good news is that while Bennu might hit us, it's unlikely.
"The probability of Bennu hitting Earth is very low (1 in 3000), and if it does, it will be in 150-200 years," said Dr. Robin Smith, a physicist at the University of Sheffield Hallam.
And by that time, it is quite possible that we will create an asteroid weapon to save us from certain death. However, Bennu's impact would be devastating to Earth if this happened.