A swarm of meteor's heading towards Earth could have the potential to cause a catastrophic impact, a new study from Western Ontario University says. The so-called Taurid swarm is a recurring event that could have been a role in the biggest Earth impact of modern times, in 1908, when a space rock slams into Siberia with an entire force to destroy an entire forest.
What has become known as thewhich is so powerful that the blast leveled 80 million trees over 800-square-mile area. It's considered to be a one-in-1,000-year event, according to Western Ontario University. But while the Tunguska explosion occurred just over a century ago, another search phenomenon could occur sooner than its 1
The Taurid swarm is a dense cluster of meteorites within the Taurid meteor stream. Earth periodically passes through the Taurid swarm, and it is one of the three space phenomenons that could result in a catastrophic collision. Near Earth Objects (NEOs) search as asteroids and meteoroids, as well as comets are the other two potential causes.
The Taurid swarm is created when Earth passes through the debris left behind by Comet Encke, according to NASA. The comet's dust barrels through Earth's atmosphere at 65,000 mph, burns up and creates a meteor shower. This Taurid meteor shower is usually weak, but there are some years where it is more visible, NASA says.
The Taurid swarm claims to be a large collision, Western Ontario University researchers hypothesized.
This summer, Earth will approach within 30,000,000 km of the center of the Taurid swarm, the study says. That would be Earth's closest encounter with the swarm since 1975 and the best viewing opportunity we'll have until the early 2030s.
This closeness will not only benefit star-gazers, but it will allow the researchers to study the Taurid swarm and
"There is strong meteoric and NEO evidence supporting the tauride swarm and its potential existential risks, but this summer brings a unique opportunity to observe and quantify these objects," said David Clark, a Western Ontario University graduate student and first author of the study.
While the Taurid swarm is not expected to cause any harm, Western Ontario University researchers will be studying it by using the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope at the University of Hawaii in August. That's when they're ready to go to gather information – and hopefully learn more about whether the swarm is capable of producing a repeat of the 1908 impact.