Washington-An asteroid the size of a bus came to within 186,000 miles of Earth - a close shave in cosmic terms - on Saturday morning.

The recently-detected asteroid HL129 was closer to Earth than the moon - which is on average 238,855 miles away from our planet - on its closest approach at 4.13am. The asteroid is about 7.6 metres wide, according to NASA’s Asteroid Watch project based at the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

An asteroid of that size would cause significant damage if it impacted a major city, potentially hitting with the impact of a nuclear bomb roughly half the size of the one that hit Hiroshima in 1945.

The asteroid was discovered on Wednesday, April 28, by astronomers with the Mount Lemmon Survey team, according to an alert by the Minor Planet Center, an arm of the International Astronomical Union that chronicles asteroid discoveries, reports

NASA scientists and researchers around the world constantly monitor the sky for asteroids that could hit the surface of the planet. Startling new research has revealed just how vulnerable our planet is to asteroid impacts.

A trio of former astronauts has announced we’re up to ten times more likely to be hit than previously thought - and warn the only way we’ve avoided disaster so far is through ‘blind luck’.

However, the majority of the impacts occurred either high up in the atmosphere, or in unpopulated areas including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Despite the majority of impacts occurring in water and high up in the atmosphere, a number have taken place on land.

The Chelyabinsk meteorite flew above the Russian city in 2013. The impact injured hundreds of people and served as a reminder of how deadly incoming space rocks can be.

Asteroids hitting the Earth caused 26 nuclear-scale explosions between 2000 and 2013, a new report has revealed.

Some were more powerful, and in one case, dozens of times stronger, than the 15-kiloton atom bomb blast that destroyed Hiroshima.