Study Finds Possible Connection Between Chelyabinsk Meteor and Moon’s Formation

© Sputnik /  / Go to the mediabankThe trace of a flying object in the sky over Chelyabinsk (still from a dashboard camera). (File)
The trace of a flying object in the sky over Chelyabinsk (still from a dashboard camera). (File) - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.02.2022
The explosion of the 66-foot-wide meteor over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on February 15, 2013, was powerful enough to set off devices for detecting nuclear weapons tests, as it generated a blast eight times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.
A new examination of the bolide that exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk in 2013 has found a curious connection to the formation of Earth’s moon.
The Moon is believed to have formed about 4.5 billion years ago when a Mars-sized planet collided with Earth early in its formation, spewing a large amount of molten rock into orbit that coalesced into a moon. However, a lot of other pieces of rock were spun out into space, too, becoming asteroids and increasing the number of space collisions afterward.
A group of scientists examining the meteorite fragments that survived the aerial blast over Chelyabinsk in 2013 have found that the rock was likely split off a much larger asteroid during this period. Their research was published in Communications Earth & Environment on Thursday.
According to the paper, the geoscientists made their discovery by looking at crystals inside the meteorite that are known to hold only certain types of atoms.
For example, zircon crystals readily incorporate uranium atoms during their formation, which happens when silicates with large amounts of incompatible elements melt. However, those same crystals strongly reject lead atoms. Because uranium radioactively decays into lead at a known rate, scientists can look at how much uranium and lead are inside a given crystal and tell how long ago it formed.
Some of the crystals in the Chelyabinsk meteorite were formed 4.5-4.4 billion years ago. However, other crystals on the rock are much younger, some only 50 million years old, meaning it has taken a couple of big hits in its time, which melted rock and formed new crystals. According to the report, the newer crystals don’t show the same properties as the older ones, indicating the oldest crystals were formed by the largest impact the rock ever sustained.
So a big rock that landed on Earth got snapped off of a larger rock by an impact at a time when there were lots and lots of impacts happening in the solar system thanks to the process that created the Earth’s Moon - coincidence?
"The fact that all of these asteroids record intense melting at this time might indicate Solar System reorganization, either resulting from the Earth-Moon formation or perhaps the orbital movements of giant planets," Craig Walton, a geoscientist at the University of Cambridge in the UK and one of the authors of the study, said in a news release.
According to Science Alert, Walton was referring to a theory that Jupiter and Saturn formed further away from the Sun than they are presently, and later migrated to their present orbits - a development that would have thrown all gravitational relationships in the solar system way off, causing more collisions.
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