(ORDO NEWS) — We knew about this: about 66 million years ago, an asteroid, about twice as much as Paris, crashed into the Earth, destroying all dinosaurs living on land and 75 percent of life on the planet.
What remained a mystery was whether the collision occurred at a right angle or more sliding, which would be more destructive.
As it turned out, according to a study published on Tuesday in Nature Communications , a giant cosmic rock crashed into our planet at the “deadliest” angle – 60 degrees. The cataclysm raised enough debris and gases into the upper atmosphere to radically change the climate, dooming the Tyrannosaurus rex and everything he hunted for extinction.
Analyzing the structure of a crater 200 km wide in southern Mexico, where the asteroid fell, scientists conducted a series of simulations.
Lead author of the study, Gareth Collins from Imperial College London and his colleagues from the University of Freiburg and the University of Texas at Austin examined four possible impact angles – 90, 60, 45 and 30 degrees – and two speeds of a flying asteroid, 12 and 20 kilometers per second.
The best match for data from the crater is a 60-degree strike.
“Sixty degrees is a more deadly angle, because with such a collision, enough dust and gas will rise into the air, covering the entire globe,” Collins said.
He added that if the asteroid collided with the Earth at a right angle or at a more inclined angle, a lot of debris would not be thrown into the atmosphere.
Large amounts of sulfur in the form of tiny particles that remained suspended in the air blocked the Sun, cooling the climate by several degrees Celsius. Smoke, ash, and trash consumed the atmosphere, eventually destroying most plants and destroying 75 percent of the species on Earth.
It is also believed that Chiksulub triggered an earthquake, the seismic waves of which reached Tanis – a fossil in North Dakota at a distance of 3,000 km, in just 13 minutes.
Seismic shock caused giant tsunamis across the planet.
So far, scientists have managed to study only the early stages of the collision. Scientists have studied geological data collected during recent excavations to better understand how the cataclysm unfolded.
Scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how the asteroid triggered mass extinction and why some species survived and others did not.
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