In 1908 a fireball appeared over northern Siberia, and the scary sighting was followed by a tremendous explosion that leveled trees across more than 2,000 sq km. Even though experts classified it as a meteor strike, scientists have not succeeded in discovering a crater that could have formed due to the impact.
Further investigations carried out by experts suggested that the explosion, now known as the Tunguska event, was similar to an airburst nuclear explosion, that unleashed energy equivalent to five megatons. Even though vigorous searches were conducted to discover meteor fragments, nothing was found until now, and it made some conspiracy theorists believe that the Tunguska event had some alien connection.
Tunguska Explosion Mystery Solved
Now, a new study has apparently solved the mystery surrounding the Tunguska explosion. The study suggested that there are no fragments because the asteroid did not fragment at all, instead, it glanced off the earth's atmosphere and escaped to the depths of the space.
The Possibility of a Glancing Impact
This is not the first time that scientists have noticed the glancing characteristic of certain meteors and asteroids. One of the most famous glancing impacts happened in 1970 when a space rock that had the size of a truck glanced off the earth's upper atmosphere. This meteor was visible across parts of Utah and Wyoming, and researchers who conducted the new study analyzed whether a similar glancing effect had caused the Tunguska explosion.
After running several models, researchers came to the conclusion that the asteroid that caused the Tunguska explosion could be at least 200 meters long. In the study report which is now published in the Monthly Notices Of The Royal Astronomical Society, researchers revealed that rapid compression of air near the asteroid was enough to cause an explosion. The researchers added the mysterious space body could still be orbiting the sun.