Thursday, May 24, 2012

Astronomy Cast Episode 234- Tunguska Event

On June 30th of 1908, as strange explosion occurred over the northern part of Siberia, north of Lake Baikal.  Astronomers are unsure as to what exactly this event was or what it was caused by, however, it had a huge impact on Siberia and the area surrounding it.  In fact, the explosion was heard in places so far away as Britain.

It wasn't until the 1920's that scientists began researching what had actually happened.  On a trip to Siberia, scientists noticed much tree destruction in various intriguing patterns. At first, scientists thought that this was the cause of a meteor colliding with the Earth.  However, on further inspection, they decided that a meteor was not large enough to create such widespread destruction. They were also unable to find a crater, which would have been formed, thus supporting that this was probably not the result of a meteor.

Instead, they began to believe that it could have been a comet that began to either melt, ionize, or just blow up as a result of entering Earth's atmosphere.  They further determined that it must have been a comet sever meters in diameter, thus causing a big enough explosion to destroy what it did, but leave no crater.  After testing some other theories, scientists verified that this theory is the most probable of all of them.

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