Everyone's images are automatically combined into a timelapse video, shown below.
2010 NY65 was discovered on 2010 July 14 by the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite which observes in the infrared part of the electromagnetic spectrum beyond what the human eye can see. Infrared radiation is given off by all warm objects and is very helpful for detecting asteroids, which are often very dark and hard to see using visible light.
The orbital period of 2010 NY65 (its ‘year’ or how long it takes to go around the Sun) is 364.5 days, which is very similar to that of the Earth’s 365.25 days. However its orbit is more eccentric (less like a circle) than the Earth’s, which means it spends some time closer to the Sun than the Earth and some time further away, outside of Earth’s orbit. Its orbit is also more tilted than that of the Earth’s.
The combined facts that 2010 NY65 crosses the Earth’s orbit (at times putting it close to the Earth) and that it is large enough to cause serious damage if it were to hit, makes this NEO a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid (PHA). Although currently 2010 NY65 does not come any closer than 1.6 million miles, which sounds like a long way and a safe distance, this is actually very close on the scale of the Solar System. Changes in its orbit caused by close passes to the Earth or Venus could cause it to come much closer to the Earth in the future, possibly even causing it to collide with the Earth!
The above video was produced by the Goldstone Radar Observing team
We know that 2010 NY65 is about 230 meters or 0.15 miles in diameter, and with the help of the infrared data from WISE, we know it reflects about 7% of the light that falls on it. This is about as reflective as the dark ocean or a conifer forest and is much darker than the Earth, which reflects about 30% of the light that hits it on average.
During 2010 NY65’s close approach to the Earth, it will get within 4.1 million kilometres or 2.5 million miles on 2016 June 24. Because its period is so close to the Earth’s year, this means we will have close approaches every year on about the same day or within a few days for the next several years. These repeated close approaches will allow astronomers to use the planetary radars at Goldstone in California and Arecibo in Puerto Rico to make very precise measurements of how the asteroids’ orbit is changing over time.
These measurements will allow us to “weigh” the asteroid and, combining this with its size and shape from radar images, will allow us to determine how dense it is and what it is made of. This information will be crucial to know if 2010 NY65 ever ends up on a collision course with the Earth and we need to deflect it. It will also help us learn more about NEOs in general, which will help us take appropriate steps if we find another asteroid on a very close approach to the Earth in the future.