Scary skull-shaped ‘Halloween Death Comet’ heading towards Earth

Gigantic space rocks are scary things at the best of times. But none are quite as spooky as the huge object that’s shaped like a skull and known as the ‘Halloween Death Comet’.

It’s officially called 2015 TB145 and last zoomed by on October 31, 2015, coming within 302,000 miles of our planet, which is about 1.3 times the distance from Earth to the moon.

Humanity will get a second chance to get a closer look at the space skull when it zooms by just after All Hallow’s Eve in November 2018.

The ominous object is literally the ghost of a comet which was killed by the Sun It is thought to be a ‘dead comet’ which has been radically altered by orbiting our star for millions of years and is between 625 and 700 metres wide.

An asteroid is generally made of rock or metal, while a comet consists of ice and rock.

It’s thought the Halloween space rock may once have been a comet until the ice was boiled off over a long period of time, meaning it’s ‘dead’.

The comet would probably not do us any damage if it hit Earth, because it would be likely to burn up in the atmosphere and become a shooting star.

It’s not thought to be on a collision course with our planet. Earlier this year, Pablo Santos-Sanz from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia published an academic paper detailing his observations of the object.

He said the Halloween Death Asteroid would not come as close to Earth during this year’s visit as it did in 2017. It will zoom by at a distance of about 24 million miles.

‘Although this approach shall not be so favourable, we will be able to obtain new data which could help improve our knowledge of this mass and other similar masses that come close to our planet,’ the astronomer added.

The Halloween Death Comet will zoom by Earth on November 11 but is set to come much closer later on in the 21st century.

Thomas G. Müller, a researcher from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Germany and co-author of the study, added: ‘The next slightly more exciting encounter will be around Halloween’s day in the year 2088 when the object approaches Earth to a distance of about 20 lunar distances.

Our encounter with the Halloween Death Asteroid in 2015 marked the closest approach of an object of that size since 2006. The next time we’ll experience such a close shave will come in August 2027.