How big an asteroid would annihilate Wales? New interactive map has the answer
How big an asteroid would it take to annihilate Wales? A new interactive map has the answer.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer is not ‘an asteroid the size of Wales’. In fact, it would only take an asteroid 1,700 feet long – about the distance from Cardiff Castle to the National Museum – for everyone in Wales to be blown away by its impact.
Placed right at the centre of Wales, near Llanidloes, such a strike would kill 500,000 people in the fireball, while everyone in Wales would receive at least 2nd-degree burns.
The Asteroid launcher website, created by Neal Agarwal and based on research by Dr. Gareth Collins and Dr. Clemens Rumpf, allows you to experiment with asteroids of any size, speed, angle and composition. If you want to imagine going out in ultimate style, aim a 100 mile long solid-gold asteroid at your house.
The website allows you to see the size of the fireball, shockwave, and earthquake that would result.
It demonstrates that an asteroid large enough to kill pretty much everyone in Wales would require quite a bit of oomph. It would need to be 0.7 miles across – about the distance from Cardiff Castle to the Cardiff Central train station.
Dropped near Llangurig it would wipe out 8,393,171 in the resulting fireball – taking out much of Birmingham as well. 115,783 people would also die in the shock wave, 5,324,779 people would die from the wind blast reaching as far as the shores of France, and 16,619 people from the earthquake.
It would leave a crater 2,337 ft deep and release as much energy as the Yellowstone earthquake.
The good news is that such an asteroid impact only happens every 1.1 million years. However, scientists are unsure when the last impact of this size was.
Over the last century, the most significant asteroid to have struck the Earth was one the size of a small building that flew over Russia in 2013. Over 1,400 people were injured in the blast according to Russian authorities.
The 65 metre-across Tunguska meteor that hit the Earth in 1908 flattened 2,000 square kilometres of forest, but thankfully landed in the sparsely populated Eastern Siberia and may have only killed three people.
Neal Agarwal who created the website told Motherboard that he loved “playing out disaster scenarios in my head”.
“I’ve always wanted a tool that would help visualize the effects of some major natural disaster,” he said.
“Asteroids are a good choice since their effects are so far-reaching. I think the tool could also help people gain more appreciation for our need to deflect asteroids like in NASA’s DART mission.”
He added: “Asteroid impact simulation is a whole area of research and it can get pretty complicated, with supercomputers needed to get the most accurate results.
“But luckily there’s also tons of great resources like Dr. Gareth Collins’ scientific papers that simplify the equations and make them more accessible.
“It definitely seems to be a release valve for some as I’ve seen people fling asteroids at their workplace and rival sports teams.
“My favourite comment from Reddit was ‘I had a fun time finding an asteroid that was big enough to destroy my workplace but not my apartment’.”
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