What would happen if an meteor or asteroid the size of ______________, made of ______________, hit Earth at a speed of ______________?
Have fun destroying the planet!!! (And learning about asteroid impacts of various sizes and energies, of course)
Well, this will give you nightmares.
Jupiter may have “saved Earth from a devastating cosmic collision” on Monday when it took a hit from what may have been a massive asteroid, resulting in a 100-mile-wide fireball large enough to be caught on film from Earth.
This is the third time since 2009 observers have seen an impact flash on Jupiter’s surface, and some astronomers think the big planet’s gravitational pull serves as a sort of “cosmic shield” for the inner rings of planets — including Earth — “sweeping up incoming objects that would have a deadlier effect” if they were to crash into us. A few scientists think that without Jupiter’s protection, life on Earth wouldn’t have been able to develop.
Watch the collision on Jupiter
Thanks for taking one for the team, Jupiter. Oh, and we really need to build a defense mechanism against asteroids.
What does an awesome slow-motion video of a ball falling into sand have to do with any of that? BOOM. That’s what.
Around 65 million years ago, an asteroid about six miles across struck the Earth, incinerating the local atmosphere and leading to mass extinction of the dinosaurs. New research from NASA geologists suggests that between 1.8 and 3.8 billion years ago, perhaps seventy such impacts occurred.
In the early solar system, the gas giant planets like Jupiter and Neptune hadn’t quite settled into their homes at the outer reaches of our planetary neighborhood. Their irregular orbits sent enormous hunks of debris hurtling toward young Earth (an era called the Late Heavy Bombardment). If you were an early single-celled organism on Earth, just chillin in your mineral pool, minding your own prokaryotic business, life would have been very eventful, and destructive.
By locating the debris patterns in deep rock that occur with impacts such as these, followed by plugging them into an advanced computer model, these researchers guess that “dino-killer” type asteroids may have been a regular event.
I wonder how they might have shaped early evolution? Thank goodness the solar system has settled down a bit since then.
Previously: For more awesome Late Heavy Bombardment boom-booms, check out this video reconstruction of the Moon’s evolution, and check out my answer about where our moon’s particular crater pattern came from.
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