NASA reveals how big the Asteroid that killed dinosaurs, destroyed Earth, actually was

Ever wanted to know how big was the asteroid that killed dinosaurs and destroyed the Earth as was existing then? Thanks to NASA, we know the size of this Earth-killer asteroid.

| Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:07 IST
Dinosaurs and asteroid
Through NASA, now we know how large the asteroid that killed dinosaurs and destroyed the Earth was. (Pixabay)
Dinosaurs and asteroid
Through NASA, now we know how large the asteroid that killed dinosaurs and destroyed the Earth was. (Pixabay)

It was not the first time an asteroid had hit Earth and it was not the largest asteroid to hit Earth. However, somehow, this was the asteroid that killed dinosaurs and destroyed Earth a long time ago. For decades, scientists had been working to find out how dinosaurs went extinct? Back in the 19th and early 20th century, there were some interesting theories ranging from toxic volcanic gasses to food shortage. However, evidence has shown definitively that it was an asteroid strike that wiped the entire dinosaur species from the planet Earth. What exactly was this evidence, how large was the asteroid that hit Earth and killed dinosaurs? These are still important questions to which we must know the answers in order to understand and prepare against any future threat. Well, thanks to NASA, we do know the answers to how large the asteroid that killed dinosaurs and destroyed the Earth was. Read on to find out more.

Dinosaurs first appeared during the Triassic period, between 243 and 233.23 million years ago, although details around their origin is still a hotly debated topic. Interestingly, based on fossil records, birds are actually feathered dinosaurs who have evolved from theropods and are the only lineage of dinosaurs to survive the asteroid strike-fueled extinction. This extinction event took place around 66 million years ago and is known as the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event.

The asteroid that killed the dinosaurs

The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction event refers to the sudden mass extinction of dinosaurs, particularly non-avian dinosaurs. Around 66 million years ago, an asteroid hit the surface of Earth and caused instant demise for a large population of dinosaurs. Although NASA does not know where the asteroid originated from, we do know its size now. It was around 12km wide. The asteroid struck the Earth in the Gulf of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula creating the 180-kilometer wide Chicxulub crater.

What happened in the aftermath of asteroid strike on Earth?

Simulations have shown that within hours of the asteroid strike on Earth, earthquakes, tsunamis and global firestorms would have started, killing dinosaurs. But it would also have had long term impacts with the dust and sulfate aerosol covering the atmosphere would have cooled down the Earth and triggered an ice age.

What does an asteroid strike on Earth mean for us?

The knowledge that an asteroid between the size of 10-15 kms can have such an extreme impact on the planet has helped NASA and the entire astronomy community in designing threat levels of the asteroids who are likely to approach us in the future. This also tells us how much time we may have to prepare before another such a giant asteroid comes close to Earth. Currently, the largest potentially hazardous asteroid known to NASA is Asteroid Toutatis, at 5.4 kms width.

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First Published Date: 22 Feb, 13:26 IST