About 66 million years ago, an asteroid hit Earth, which led to the extinction of dinosaurs and about 75% of the life on the entire planet. We don’t know for sure if it was a direct hit, or if it was something even more destructive.
According to a new study, the asteroid has struck the Earth in the deadliest possible angle – that of 60 degrees. The hit has left enough debris and gases into the atmosphere, that it changed the climate, which basically led to the extinction of the creatures.
By taking a look at the 200-kilometer wide crater left in the southern Mexico, scientists were able to run a series of scenarios.
The lead author of the study, Gareth Collins of Imperial College London, has taken a look at four possible angles – 90, 60, 45, and 30 degrees, at two speeds: 12 and 20 kilometers per second. They came to the conclusion that the crater was made after a 60-degree strike.
He stated that: “Sixty degrees is a more lethal impact angle because it ejects a larger amount of material fast enough to engulf the planet. The Chicxulub impact triggered a mass extinction because it ejected huge quantities of dust and gas out of the crater fast enough to disperse around the globe.” Do you know what we would have had if the hit at a more oblique angle? Not as much debris thrown up in the atmosphere.
The climate was changed due to the large amounts of sulfur found as tiny particles in the air, which blocked the sun, cooling the climate significantly. All the debris and the smoke has crowded the atmosphere and destroyed most of the plants and species on Earth.