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Study's findings could stop asteroids from destroying Earth

A new study at the University of Tennesee, Knoxville, might just save the world.

This new research could help protect the Earth from potential asteroid collisions, reports Phys.org. The scientists studied 1950 DA, an asteroid that is near Earth, and found that it rotates fast enough to be gravity-defying.

1950 DA is held together by van der Waals, forces that have never been seen on an asteroid until now. The study, published in the journal Nature, has "potential implications for defending our planet from a massive asteroid impact," according to Phys.org.

"We found that 1950 DA is rotating faster than the breakup limit for its density," Ben Rozitis, one of the UT researchers, said in a statement. "So if just gravity were holding this rubble pile together, as is generally assumed, it would fly apart. Therefore, interparticle cohesive forces must be holding it together." Cohesive forces have previously not been noted in asteroids, though there has been speculation about their presence.

"Understanding what holds these asteroids together can inform strategies to guard against future impacts," Rozitis said. The researchers are currently looking into ways to prevent asteroid collisions, including destabilizing the newly discovered cohesive forces before an impact with Earth.