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Taurids Meteor Stream Could Cause Disaster To Earth

Taurids Meteor Collision
Taurids Meteor Stream Could Cause Disaster To Earth

Scientists have discovered a new branch of the Taurids meteor stream that could prove to be a major disaster for Earth, with asteroids up to 1,000 feet wide flying past us every few years.

The Taurids meteor shower peaks every October and November, producing a relatively small display of shooting stars as Earth passes through its stream.

Meteor showers are visible when tiny bits of cosmic debris enter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up in the sky while entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Because the Taurids are made up of branches and a core, the level of visibility rises and falls depending on how much debris Earth encounters as it passes through the Taurids stream.

Most often, the meteoroids are only about the size of a grain of sand and pose no risk at all. However, if a large enough asteroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere, instead of disintegrating it would pass through and plummet to the Earth’s surface.

A very important reminder of the dangers posed by asteroids and meteors came in 2013, when the 66-foot-wide Chelyabinsk meteor fell over Russia’s southern Ural region.

Researchers from the Czech Academy of Sciences in the Czech Republic has uncovered evidence to suggest that Earth is at a much greater danger of being hit by an asteroid than we previously calculated.

 

Currently there is not enough data to quantify the risk the Taurids meteor stream poses to Earth. Study author Jiří Borovička states, “A systematic search for asteroids within the newly identified branch will be needed to find the size-frequency distribution of large bodies within the branch.” Furthermore she adds, “The impact risk increases during the encounters of the Earth with the branch.”

She describes the risk of Earth being hit by a large asteroid during one of these encounters as a “lottery”—or “to be hit by a bullet or not.”

 

These findings reinforce the hypothesis that the Taurids stream is a remnant of a giant comet that disintegrated. Some of the debris from this event is believed to have collided with the Earth, and has been connected with at least one catastrophic event in Earth’s history.

“Our observation gives some weight to that hypothesis,” Borovička says. “Perhaps there was a series of comet/asteroid disruptions and one of the recent ones created the new branch. We believe that our detailed description of the new branch will enable other people to explore this hypothesis in more detail than was possible before.”

 

Source: Newsweek | NASA

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