28 October, 2020

The Cosmic Takkar

A comet wiped the dinosaurs out 65 million years ago. Is one coming our way?

The Cosmic Takkar
Far beyond the distant orbits of the outermost planets of our solar system lies the Oort cloud. This ancient region, which has never yet been seen, is a hypothesised celestial rubbish-heap littered with frozen comets. It may not sound glamorous, but along with two other primitive regions—the Kuiper belt of comets outside Neptune and the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter—it has the ability to end life on earth as we know it.

Sixty-five million years ago, an asteroid or comet about 10 km wide came hurtling through space from one of these regions at some 20 km per second and slammed into the earth near what is now the coast of Mexico. The kinetic energy delivered by the impact was beyond comprehension—ten billion times the energy of the Hiroshima atom bomb—and it immediately unleashed an all-out apocalypse on earth. Computer simulations and geological evidence suggest that the collision triggered massive earthquakes worldwide, as well as possibly volcanic eruptions and 100-metre-high mega-tsunamis. Meanwhile, the debris from the...


To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

In this article:

More from Maulik Parikh

Latest Magazine

November 02, 2020

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section