That must've been a powerful explosion.
The Chelyabinsk meteor that exploded in the Russian sky back in 2013 could actually have been involved in the creation of Earth's Moon, according to a new study published this week in the Communications Earth & Environment journal on Nature.
“Meteorite impact ages are often controversial," said Craig Walton, who led the research and is based at Cambridge’s Department of Earth Sciences in a university article explaining the study. "Our work shows that we need to draw on multiple lines of evidence to be more certain about impact histories — almost like investigating an ancient crime scene."
Although the dates may be a little fuzzy, the Chelyabinsk meteorite could have been one that helped create the Moon by crashing into the Earth and shooting off fragments of rock that would become our lunar satellite. We know this in part because of important events in the solar system that happened around the same time.
Asteroids help scientists understand how the inner Solar System (aka our Moon, Sun, and planets) was created because they carry clues about previous impacts and important minerals that tell their age. Meteors can be dated by the amount of lead they contain, according to ScienceAlert.com. Zircon crystals include uranium but strongly reject lead. That means any lead levels are the product of radioactive uranium decay. Researchers can then measure the age of zircon because we know how long uranium takes to decay, and match those results to other information and date ranges in the universe.
A ScienceatNASA video posted two weeks after the event back in 2013 shows dashcam footage of the meteor rocketing through the atmosphere with a bright, glowing tail. The explosion was so powerful that it caused about 1,500 people to seek medical attention, mostly due to broken glass, according to EarthSky.org.
At the time, the video reported that only a fraction of the thousands of fragments from the exploded meteor had been found, and that scientists were working to find out more about its origin.
The initial explosion was scary as you can see from the video, but the follow up on the meteor's history is intriguing. The rock may have been returning to a planet it crashed into millions of years ago, and we got to witness it in real time.
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