Incoming doomsday asteroids may be harder to destroy than previously thought

Scientists have found that massive "doomsday" asteroids may be harder to destroy than previously thought.

An impact 66 million years ago killed the dinosaurs, so to prevent humanity suffering a similar fate a popular theory - as famously illustrated in the movie Armageddon - involves blowing up the asteroid before it hits Earth.

However, scientists at John Hopkins University have now suggested this would be much harder than previously thought using a new computer model examines how rock breaks apart in simulations of asteroid collisions.

The study says fragments of the blasted space rock would be likely to reform with the asteroid because of gravity. After the initial impact, millions of cracks would form and ripple throughout the asteroid, allowing parts of it to flow like sand, and left a crater in its surface. The damaged core would still pull the fragments around it.

"We used to believe that the larger the object, the more easily it would break, because bigger objects are more likely to have flaws. Our findings, however, show that asteroids are stronger than we used to think and require more energy to be completely shattered," says Charles El Mir, a recent Ph.D graduate from the Johns Hopkins University's Department of Mechanical Engineering and the paper's first author.

"Our findings, however, show that asteroids are stronger than we used to think and require more energy to be completely shattered," he added.

"We are impacted fairly often by small asteroids, such as in the Chelyabinsk event a few years ago," K.T. Ramesh, director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute told The Independent​. "It is only a matter of time before these questions go from being academic to defining our response to a major threat. We need to have a good idea of what we should do when that time comes - and scientific efforts like this one are critical to help us make those decisions."

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS