Tunguska explosion could be caused by an asteroid that still revolves around the Sun


On a cool summer morning in 1908, a ball of fire appeared over northern Siberia. Eyewitnesses described a column of blue light that was moving across the sky, followed by a strong explosion that tumbled down trees over an area of ​​more than 2000 square kilometers. The explosion is consistent with a strong meteor strike, but to this day no evidence of a crater has been found. This event is currently known as the Tunguska event, and its cause is still a mystery.

One of the problems in studying the Tunguska event is its remoteness. The region is sparsely populated, and the event had only a few witnesses. Scientific studies of this event were not conducted until the 1920s. It was then that the impact area was mapped, and an early search for an impact crater was undertaken. By the 1960s, it became clear that this event was like a nuclear air explosion with an energy of about 5 megatons.

Based on what we know, the most likely cause is an asteroid impact in the form of an air explosion in which an asteroid explodes in the atmosphere, similar to the explosion of the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013. Given the size of the impact area, it is assumed that the original asteroid was almost 70 meters across. This explains why a large impact crater was not found.

But fragments of the Chelyabinsk meteorite were discovered shortly after the impact, and it can be expected that fragments of the Tunguska also reached the Earth. But despite several searches, nothing was found. This prompted some researchers to put forward other theories, such as the massive leak of natural gas or even the explosion of an alien spacecraft. But a new study claims that there are no fragments because the asteroid did not fragment. Instead, he escaped from the Earth’s atmosphere.

It is known that meteors left the atmosphere before. The most famous event was the Great Daytime Fireball of 1972. It was a truck-sized rock that crossed the upper atmosphere. A meteor was seen flying through part of Utah and Wyoming. The team found out whether such a sliding effect could cause an explosion in Tunguska.

To do this, they modeled several scenarios. They examined bodies ranging in size from 50 to 200 meters, consisting of ice, stone or iron. They found that the most likely scenario is an iron asteroid about 200 meters in size. If the object had a small impact on the atmosphere, reaching a height within 10 kilometers of the Earth’s surface, it would remain largely unscathed and return to space, entering a low Earth orbit. As a result, it can still be in the orbit of the Sun to this day. A quick compression of the air near the asteroid would be sufficient to create an observable region of the explosion.

Although research shows that sliding action is a possible solution, there is no way to prove that this is the true reason. As other researchers note, an ice comet could also create such an explosion, leaving few fragments. It’s a shame that we will probably never know for sure.


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