The world is ending. We’re on the cusp of total extinction. Grab your favorite smartphone and say goodbye. Asteroid 2012 DA14 hasn’t even flown by yet. Was today’s Russian meteorite a warning shot? No, but the science behind it is truly fascinating.
Along with our coverage from this morning, a video showing the smoke trail was particularly interesting. The first twenty seconds is nothing but silence—one of those “too quiet” moments—when suddenly a huge crash occurs seemingly out of nowhere. Reports say that crash, a vicious sonic boom, caused hundreds of building windows to break all over Central Russia—that’s how intense the event was.
As Discovery explains, the huge sound was the result “of colliding pressure waves in the atmosphere generated by an object moving faster than the speed of sound.” At sea level, that’s about 761 mph. The meteor that tore through Russian skies “was traveling a heck of a lot faster than that,” Discovery said. Estimates say the 10 ton, bus-sized space rock was moving at about 30,000 mph.
Think of it like this: the meteor was traveling so fast that it essentially created pressure waves in the air, much like a boat would create waves in the water. So as the meteor burned up, a power shockwave was left in its wake, eventually colliding with the city of Chelyabinsk.