367943 Duende, also known by its provisional designation 2012 DA14, is an Aten near-Earth asteroid with an estimated diameter of 30 meters (98 ft). Before radar imaging, its estimated diameter was 45–50 meters. During its 15 February 2013 close passage, Duende passed 27,700 km (17,200 mi), or 4.3 Earth radii, from Earth's surface. This is a record close approach for a known object of this size. About 16 hours before the closest approach of Duende, an asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere above Russia, which was, however, unrelated to it because it had a completely different orbit.
Duende was discovered on February 23, 2012, by the Observatorio Astronómico de La Sagra, Granada Province in Spain (J75), operated remotely by amateur astronomers in Mallorca, seven days after passing 0.0174 AU (2,600,000 km; 1,620,000 mi) from Earth. It was named after the duende, fairy- or goblin-like mythological creatures from Iberian, Latin American and Filipino folklore.
Based on the still relatively imprecise orbit deduced from the short arc of the 2012 observations, it was already clear that Duende would pass no closer to Earth's surface than 3.2 Earth radii during its 2013 passage. There was, however, a cumulative risk of 0.033% (1 in 3,030) that Duende would impact Earth sometime between 2026 and 2069.
On January 9, 2013, Duende was observed again by Las Campanas Observatory and the observation arc increased from 79 days to 321 days. On February 15, 2013 at 19:25 Universal Time, Duende passed 0.0002276 AU (34,050 km; 21,160 mi) from the center of Earth, with an uncertainty region of about 0.0000001 AU (15 km; 9.3 mi). It passed 27,743 kilometers (17,239 mi) above Earth's surface, closer than satellites in geosynchronous orbit. It briefly peaked at an apparent magnitude of roughly 7.2, a factor of a few fainter than would have been visible to the naked eye. The best observation location for the closest approach was Indonesia. Eastern Europe, Asia, and Australia also were well situated to observe Duende during its closest approach. Duende was not expected to pass any closer than 1950 km to any satellites. Goldstone Observatory observed Duende with radar from February 16 to February 20. Radar observations have shown it to be an elongated asteroid with dimensions of 20 by 40 meters (66 by 131 feet). This gives Duende a geometric mean (spherical) diameter equivalent to 28 meters (92 ft).
During the close approach an observational campaign involving 5 different telescopes in 4 different observatories was carried on in order to get information on the physical properties of this NEO. Visible and near-Infrared photometry, and visible spectroscopy were obtained at Gran Telescopio Canarias, Telescopio Nazionale Galileo and Calar Alto Observatory and put together. The classification using the M4AST online tool says this is an L-type asteroid those peculiar asteroids are characterized by a strongly reddish spectrum shortward of 0.8 μm, and a featureless flat spectrum longward of this, with little or no concave-up curvature related to a 1 μm silicon absorption band. Time-series photometry was also obtained in the Observatorio de La Hita (I95) and Observatorio de Sierra Nevada during two consecutive nights (15–16 February 2013). All of this data were co-phased to build a light curve of the object. This light-curve is double-peak and presents large variations in magnitude, implying a very elongated object, which is compatible with radar observations. The amplitude of the light-curve yields an axial ratio that assuming a long axis of 40 m, as can be inferred from the radar images by Goldstone, results in an equivalent diameter of 18 m, much smaller than the estimations before the close-approach.
The rotational period was precisely determined from the light curve obtaining a value of 8.95 ± 0.08 h. This value is confirmed with an analysis of all the photometry of this objects reported to the Minor Planet Center. Using data pre and post close approach the authors find that the object suffered a spin-up during the event that decreased the rotational period from 9.8 ± 0.1 h down to 8.8 ± 0.1, which is compatible with the more accurate value estimated from the light-curve.
The close approach to Earth reduced the orbital period of Duende from 368 days to 317 days, and perturbed it from the Apollo class to the Aten class of near-Earth asteroids. Its next close approach to Earth will be on 15 February 2046 when it will pass about 0.0148 AU (2,210,000 km; 1,380,000 mi) from Earth. Based on 7 radar observations, the next close approach to Earth similar to the 2013 passage will be on 16 February 2123 when Duende will pass no closer than 0.0002 AU (30,000 km; 19,000 mi) from the center of Earth. For the 2123 passage, the nominal pass will be 0.003 AU (450,000 km; 280,000 mi) from the center of the Moon and then 0.005 AU (750,000 km; 460,000 mi) from the center of Earth.
During closest approach to Earth in 2013 the orbital period of Duende was reduced from 366 days to 317 days. Its aphelion was reduced from 1.110 to 0.9917 AU, leaving it almost entirely inside Earth's orbit.
Risk assessments calculated before the 2013 passage were based on a diameter of 45 meters and a mass of 130,000 metric tons. It was estimated that, if it were ever to impact Earth, it would enter the atmosphere at a speed of 12.7 km/s, would have a kinetic energy equivalent to 2.4 megatons of TNT, and would produce an air burst with the equivalent of 2.1 megatons of TNT at an altitude of roughly 10.1 kilometers (33,000 ft). The Tunguska event has been estimated at 3–20 megatons. Asteroids of approximately 50 meters in diameter are expected to impact Earth once every 1200 years or so. Asteroids larger than 35 meters across can pose a threat to a town or city. As a result of radar observations it is now known that Duende is only about 30 meters in diameter.The uncertainty region of Duende during planetary encounters is now well determined through 2123.
Duende was removed from the Sentry Risk Table on 16 February 2013.
It is estimated that there are more than a million near-Earth asteroids smaller than 100 meters.
The table above uses Sentry's stony asteroid density of 2600 kg/m3, Sentry's atmospheric entry velocity (Vimpact) of 12.7 km/s, and an angle of 45 degrees.
For kinetic energy at atmospheric entry, 3.3 Mt is equivalent to DF-4, 9 Mt is equivalent to Ivy Mike and 15.6 Mt is equivalent to Castle Bravo. For airburst energy, 530 kt is equivalent to W88 and 2.9 Mt is equivalent to R-12 Dvina.