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Fireball Hits Earth And Explodes With Same Energy As Atomic Bomb

by : Tom Percival on : 23 Feb 2016 17:28
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A colossal meteor crashed into the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month – and nobody seemed to notice.

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On February 6 at 14:00 GMT a meteor, between five to seven metres wide, exploded in the air 620 miles off the coast of Brazil, the Daily Mail reports.

The blast released the equivalent energy of 13,000 tonnes of TNT, which is the same amount of energy the first atomic weapon released when it levelled Hiroshima in 1945.

The explosion was the largest event of its type since the February 2013 meteor which exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and left more than 1,600 people injured.

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While the events seem similar, the Russian fireball was much bigger at 18 metres across and it released the equivalent of 500,000 tonnes of TNT – 40 times more than the latest impact, according to American astronomer Phil Plait.

Plait wrote on his blog:

As impacts go, this was pretty small. After all, you didn’t even hear about until weeks after it occurred.

Had it happened over a populated area it, would’ve rattled some windows and probably terrified a lot of people, but I don’t think it would’ve done any real damage.

Impacts like this happen several times per year on average, with most going unseen.

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Ron Baalke, who works for NASA, first tweeted the event after it appeared on the space agency’s Near-Earth Object Fireball page.

Apparently, blasts like this aren’t dangerous, but larger impacts are a cause for concern. NASA currently tracks around 12,992 near-Earth objects which have been discovered within our solar system.

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NASA estimates there are around 1,607 potentially hazardous asteroids in our solar system. One asteroid that could get very close to the surface, according to the space agency, is 2013 TX68a 100ft-wide asteroid, which was first spotted when it flew by Earth two years ago and will make its return on March 5.

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The whale-sized space rock may skim past Earth at just 11,000 miles, which is around 21 times closer to Earth than the moon. But Nasa admits their estimate may be wildly inaccurate, and it could pass by the Earth as far out as 9 million miles.

So don’t panic just yet!

Tom Percival

More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism. Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV. He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.

Topics: News

Credits

Daily Mail
  1. Daily Mail

    Largest fireball since Chelyabinsk falls into the ocean: Nasa reports huge explosion of seven meter space rock over the Atlantic