Heads up, guys. A skull-shaped asteroid is coming our way

This is an artist’s impression of the object, which has been described as an ‘extinct comet’. Picture: José Antonio Peñas/SINC

A CREEPY skull-shaped asteroid is set to fly past Earth just after Halloween this year.

It has previously been described as a “Halloween death comet”, although NASA officially calls it The Great Pumpkin.

The TB145 asteroid earned its spooky nickname after it flew past Earth on October 31, 2015.

Back then, it came as close as 482,000km away — or 1.3 times the distance of the moon from Earth.

The 2015 fly-by was very faint, and was too near to the Sun at its closest approach, making it practically impossible to see with the naked eye.

For 2018, the comet will be even farther from Earth, passing by 38 million kilometres away on November 11.

Images of the skull-shaped asteroid travelling through space were captured using the Goldstone telescope in Puerto Rico. Picture: NAIC-ARECIBO/NSF

Images of the skull-shaped asteroid travelling through space were captured using the Goldstone telescope in Puerto Rico. Picture: NAIC-ARECIBO/NSFSource:Supplied

Space experts say the comet’s path is very easy to predict.

“The trajectory of 2015 TB145 is well understood,” Paul Chodas of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory wrote in 2015.

“Even though that is relatively close by celestial standards, it is expected to be fairly faint, so night-sky Earth observers would need at least a small telescope to view it.”

But it’s still potentially dangerous to humans.

America’s National Space Society (NSS) classifies it as a “potentially hazardous near-Earth object”.

“Impacts represent a significant risk to human and other forms of life,” the NSS wrote in a report on potentially deadly asteroids.

The “death comet” has a diameter of 500m — which could be very bad news.

According to the report, a comet of between 350-700m in diameter could create a crater up to 12km in size.

On the smaller end of the scale, this could create “ocean-wide tsunamis”, with an impact that would “destroy (an) area the size of a small state”.

This is an artist’s impression of the object, which has been described as an ‘extinct comet’. Picture: José Antonio Peñas/SINC

This is an artist’s impression of the object, which has been described as an ‘extinct comet’. Picture: José Antonio Peñas/SINCSource:Supplied

At the higher end of this scale (700m in diameter), an asteroid would be much more deadly.

“Tsunamis reach hemispherical scales,” the report notes, saying that these mega-waves would “exceed damage from land impacts”.

The good news is that there’s no indication that TB145’s orbit will cause the asteroid to collide with Earth any time soon.

Interestingly, scientists aren’t exactly sure how the asteroid was formed either.

The best theory is that it is an “extinct comet”, which means it has shed most of its volatile ice during orbits of the Sun.

That means it hasn’t got much (or any) material left to form a tail and coma — the recognisable traits of comets in a sky.

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