An analysis of the distribution of near-Earth objects conducted using a DECam camera mounted on a 4-meter telescope Blanco of the Inter-American Cerro Tololo Observatory located in Chile showed that the number of near-Earth objects up to 20 meters in size reaches 3.5 million.
If a large asteroid crashes into the Earth, about ten kilometers in size, this could lead to the extinction of all life on the planet. However, the fall of smaller asteroids, for example, of the size of several tens of meters, is also accompanied by quite tangible consequences: for example, when a famous Chelyabinsk meteorite fell, an explosion comparable to the power of 10 atomic bombs detonated over Hiroshima was observed. Therefore, the study of the distribution of such asteroids is an important scientific task, the solution of which will help to calculate with greater accuracy the probability of the fall of such objects on the Earth’s surface.
In a new study, a group of astronomers led by Lori Allen, director of the National Observatory of Kitt-Peak, USA, estimated the number of NEOs comparable in size to the Chelyabinsk meteorite. “There are approximately 3.5 million NEOs over 10 meters in orbit around the Earth – a population about 10 times smaller than the estimates in previous studies. Approximately 90 percent of the number of these NEOs are in the “Chelyabinsk” range of sizes, that is, in the range of 10 to 20 meters, “explained Alain.
These new findings allow us to draw interesting conclusions regarding the probability of NEO entering from this range of sizes into the Earth. To explain the frequency of falling objects of such sizes on the planet’s surface with a smaller amount in orbit, it is required that the probability of their fall be greater than the probability of falling NEO of other sizes. Such an explanation can be made on the basis of the assumption that NEOs 10-20 meters in size are more often found in groups that are clouds of fragments of a larger body, and the probability of getting to Earth a fragment from such a group is higher than that of a single NEO, and his team.
NEO – A near-Earth object, an object of the solar system, whose orbit passes in close proximity to the Earth.