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Meteor which exploded over The Atlantic had force comparable to Hiroshima bomb

Meteor which exploded over The Atlantic had force comparable to Hiroshima bomb

It broke up over the Atlantic Ocean

A meteor has exploded over the Atlantic Ocean with the force of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

It's one of the ways that civilisation as we know it could end, with an asteroid impact sending the human race the way of the dinosaurs. It's a terrifying prospect, and the film Don't Look Up with Jennifer Lawrence and Leonardo DiCaprio really didn't help matter with its demonstration of the paralysis and greed which could doom humanity.

However, don't panic, cancel your end of the world orgy, as this particular meteor ultimately did not make an impact on Earth. Experts believe that it burned up at a height of around 31 kilometres above the Atlantic Ocean.

NASA has released data which indicates that the meteor released the equivalent energy of around 12,000 tonnes of TNT, or around 12 kilotons of explosive power.

For comparison, the Hiroshima Bomb detonated with a force of approximately 15 kilotons. This was enough to level the entire city and kill around 100,000 people instantly, with thousands more subsequently dying from radiation poisoning.

Fortunately for us, the asteroid was way off the coast of Brazil and burnt up in the atmosphere.

Asteroid impacts happen more often than we might think.
Pete Saloutos / Stock photo Getty

However, while 12 kilotons of explosive force may seem like a huge number, the most terrifying things about it is just how small it is compared to other explosions, both meteors and nuclear weapons.

For example, the Chelyabinsk Impact released around 450 kilotons of explosive energy, or about 0.45 megatons.

Fortunately, even this occurred so high up in the atmosphere that, even if it had happened over a population centre, it would have resulted in windows being rattled and broken, but probably not any lasting structural damage.

However, even this pales in comparison to the infamous, and mysterious, Tunguska event. This was a major impact in 1908 which is estimated to have flatted some 80 million trees in Russia.

Meteors often break up in the atmosphere.
Adastra / Stock Photo Getty

Fortunately, the impact occurred in a sparsely populated part of Russia far from any major population centres. The explosion has been estimated to have been between 10 and 15 megatons of force.

For comparison, the B-83 nuclear bomb, which is currently a part of the US arsenal, has a yield of around 1.2 megatons. The largest US bomb ever tested, the Castle Bravo explosion, weighed in at 15 megatons, while the largest bomb the USSR tested, the Tsar Bomba, was a whopping 50 megatons.

While the prospect of nuclear war remains terrifying, meteor impacts are not as rare as we might think. A meteor with a diameter of around 10 metres strikes Earth roughly every ten years or so, and most of them end up in the sea.

Now, excuse me while I go and brush off the old 'protect and survive' manual.

Featured Image Credit: Pete Saloutos / Adastra / Stock Photo (Getty)

Topics: News, World News, Space