Can an asteroid turn living organisms into charcoal? This new study has something interesting to say about asteroid impact on Earth. Read here.
We have heard countless stories in regard to how asteroids can be catastrophic. The end of the dinosaur era was due to an asteroid strike and same can happen to humans. Now, the latest study has revealed that asteroid impact can even turn living things into charcoal. It shed more light on the last dramatic moment of some microbes which can tell us about the serious consequences of space rock strikes on Earth in the past. The study says that the bodies of microorganisms covered in charcoal demonstrates the dangers from even a moderate asteroid impact.
The research team took samples from the four craters in Estonia, Poland, and Canada. These craters are separated by geographical distance and thousands of years, still, the team found millimeter-to-centimeter sized pieces of charcoal mixed with the material that was formed during each of them. Anna Losiak, the lead author and member of the Institute of Geological Sciences at the Polish Academy of Sciences told Space.com that the charcoal was formed from organisms killed, grilled, and buried by the fiery asteroid.
This discovery of the ancient asteroid-battered organisms differs from the traces of the charcoal that emerged due to normal wildfires. Anna Losiak added that the charcoal formed by impact instead of wildfire was more homogeneous and points to a lower temperature of formation, while, the charcoal found in the craters was similar but not identical as it formed when the wood is intermixed with pyroclastic flows, which form from erupting volcanoes.
“This study improves our understanding of environmental effects of small impact crater formation. We will be able to more precisely determine the size and type of evacuation zone necessary,” she said for an incoming asteroid impact. To follow up on the study, Losiak and her research team will plan to examine another set of small impact craters in Argentina in late September. The team is aiming at this site because “these are not only true impact craters — sites where an asteroid literally exploded when it touched the ground — but also penetration funnels.” A penetration funnel is the aftermath of the impact on an asteroid which slows down while entering the atmosphere of the Earth. In such cases, many asteroids survive and hence, the temperatures and pressures experienced by the ground are much less extreme, she added.