More than 100 fragments have been found from the recent Russian meteorite so far. And now, Russia’s Urals Federal University scientists have discovered the biggest piece from that impact, a chunk of meteorite weighing more than 1 kg! It was found during an expedition in the Chelyabinsk region on February 25, 2013.
“The meteroid has been estimated to be about 15 m of size in diameter when it strucked Earth’s atmosphere. It was traveling the speed of sound, also sending a shockwave to the nearby city. Meteorite’s pieces have been found along a 50 km trail under the meteorite’s path of its flight.
The multiple booms people heard were in fact explosions: not only shock waves from the meteor’s pass through the air.
In some videos, there are visible multiple light flashes inside the meteor’s contrail, which are because the rock was breaking up and then burning up rapidly with intense energy.
“Over the course of just a couple of seconds, the large energy of motion of the meteoroid was converted into heat, and this exploded with a yield of several thousand tons of TNT. It goes to show that you need not have an asteroid hit the ground to be dangerous, and in fact the hole in the ice made by the plummeting meteoroid was probably the gentlest thing it did.
There is still a lot we can glean from this event, but I suspect the best, and most lasting, lesson will be that the Universe is not necessarily friendly. It reminds of this sometimes, and we need to take that threat seriously.” – this is what astronomer Phil Plait recently wrote in his article for Slate magazine and I totally agree. This event reminds us that the life on the Earth is so fragile and the fact that we are here is not axiomatic.