An asteroid would have exploded over Antarctica about 2.5 million years ago

asteroid

A recent study, published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has shed light on a large-scale cosmic event that took place approximately 2.5 million years ago on the Antarctic continent: the disintegration of an asteroid in the Earth's atmosphere.

This revelation, based on meticulous chemical analysis of more than 100 small fragments of extraterrestrial rock preserved within the Antarctic ice sheets, has captured the attention of the scientific community.

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Asteroid-NASA

It can help us detect new events of this type

The data obtained suggests that this incident, now considered the oldest of its kind recorded to date, joins a short list of similar events known in the geological record. Previously, there were only records of two ancient aerial explosions, dated 480,000 and 430,000 years ago respectively. Exhaustive analysis of these microscopic samples has allowed researchers to characterize the phenomenon in greater detail, revealing a rich history of interactions between asteroids and our planet over time.

The research, led by scientist Matthias van Ginneken from the University of Kent, has provided valuable insights into the dynamics of aerial explosions and their impact on Earth. These events, although they do not result in direct impacts on the Earth's surface, can have devastating consequences due to the transfer of kinetic energy to an impact column, generating shock waves and thermal radiation that can significantly affect the environment and life on Earth. Land.

The study It also highlights the importance of understanding and monitoring possible asteroid impacts on our planet. Although it is estimated that events such as Chelyabinsk in 2013 and Tunguska in 1908 occur every 50 and 500 years respectively., the existence of this ancient explosion over Antarctica underscores the continued need for research in this field. Detailed chemical analysis of fragments collected on the white continent confirms that the rocks are dominated by minerals such as olivine and spinel, characteristic of asteroids known as ordinary chondrites.

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Asteroid-NASA

This discovery also offers a unique perspective on the history and evolution of the solar system.. The presence of extraterrestrial materials trapped in Antarctic ice suggests that these asteroids have been part of our cosmic environment for millions of years, providing valuable clues about the formation and evolution of our planetary system.

In summary, this new discovery not only expands our understanding of asteroid impacts on Earth, but also highlights the importance of continued research in the field of astronomy and planetary geology to better understand our place in the cosmos and the potential risks we face as a civilization.

Reference

The identification of airbursts in the past: Insights from the BIT-58 layer

. Matthias van Ginneken et ao. Earth and Planetary Science Letters (2024). DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.epsl.2023.118562

Octavio Alonso