Unformatted text preview: Explosion Obviously, something this big hitting the Earth is going to hit with a lot of energy! Let's use the energy unit of 1 megaton of TNT (=4.2× 10 15 Joules) to describe the energy of the impact. This is the energy one million tons of dynamite would release if it was exploded and is the energy unit used for nuclear explosions. The largest yield of a thermonuclear warhead is around 50--100 megatons. The kinetic energy of the falling object is converted to the explosion when it hits. The 10-kilometer object produces an explosion of 6 × 10 7 megatons of TNT (equivalent to an earthquake of magnitude 12.4 on the Richter scale). The 1-kilometer object produces a milder explosion of "only" 6 × 10 4 megatons (equivalent to an earthquake of magnitude 9.4 on the Richter scale). On its way to the impact, the asteroid pushes aside the air in front of it creating a hole in the atmosphere. The atmosphere above the impact site is removed for several tens of seconds. Before the surrounding air can rush back in to fill the gap, material from the impact: vaporized asteroid,...
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- Fall '10
- Astronomy, Richter scale, 20-kilometer diameter crater, hot crater floor