'Dead' comet resembling a skull to fly past Earth on 11 Nov, days after Halloween

The asteroid, while 1,300-feet wide, will appear far too small to view with the naked eye this year.

Better late to the party than never, an eerie skull-shaped asteroid is expected to zip past Earth on 11 November this year, days after Halloween.

The object posed no threat in 2015 and is 100 times further away this time around in 2018, NASA says.

An image of the asteroid 2015 TB145 — a dead comet — generated from radar data collected by the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on 30 October, 2015. Image courtesy: NAIC-Arecibo/NSF

An image of the asteroid 2015 TB145 — a dead comet — generated from radar data collected by the National Science Foundation's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico on 30 October 2015. Image courtesy: NAIC-Arecibo/NSF

Scientists at NASA have popularly dubbed it "The Great Pumpkin" and officially, "2015 TB145", but the asteroid has grown popular for its striking resemblance to a giant skull.

The asteroid's 2015 fly-by

The near-Earth asteroid, officially called 2015 TB145, was first discovered by University of Hawaii scientists at the Pan-STARRS-1 (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) Observatory in Maui in 2015.

The observatory, as part of the Near-Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program, announced the expected fly-by and spotted the asteroid as it whizzed past Earth on Halloween day (31 October) 2015, a mere 1.3 lunar distances away.

The "Dead" Halloween Comet

Many reports brought up another interesting feature of the large space rock — that it is likely a dead comet for all scientific purposes, and (fittingly) resembling a skull.

"We found that the object reflects about six percent of the light it receives from the sun," Vishnu Reddy, a research scientist at the Planetary Science Institute in Arizona, said to NASA press. “This suggests that it could be cometary in origin — but as there is no coma evident, the conclusion is it is a dead comet."

Comets generally have long tails, which usually form as a result of the vapourisation of various gases and ice as the comet approaches the sun. A comet is dead when it's lost all such gasses and ice and thus, has no tail.

This year, 2015 TB145 has come back for a late haunt and is expected to pass our planet on 11 November from much farther than last time — 105 lunar distances from Earth.

The asteroid might be 1,300-feet wide, but its distance from Earth will make it far too small to be seen with the naked eye.

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