On December 18, 2018, at around noon local time, a meteor about 10 meters (30 feet) long and weighing more than 1,500 tons, plunged into Earth’s atmosphere. It exploded over the Bering Sea and released energy equivalent to 173 kilotons of TNT – at least ten times more powerful than “Little Boy”, the atomic bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. Japanese weather satellite Himawari 8 has recorded the fireball of the meteor before it exploded.

Meteor Bering Sea
A color view of the meteor that flew over the North Pacific and exploded over the Bering Sea in December 2018, taken by Japan’s Himawari weather satellite – bright orange fireball against the blue + white background. Scientists long knew that meteoroids often blew up before they reach the Earth’s surface, but they didn’t know why. According to a study, as a meteoroid hurtles through Earth’s atmosphere, the high-pressure air in front of it seeps into its pores and cracks. This process creates a great amount of internal pressure too, which pushing the body of the meteor apart and causing it to explode. (Click on image to see full size)
Meteor that blasted over the Bering Sea (cropped)
Here is the fireball of the meteor

Unlike the Chelyabinsk meteor, which exploded over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on 15 February 2013, this event over the Bering Sea went largely unnoticed, because it happened in such a remote location.

Chelyabinsk meteor was bigger than the Bering Sea meteor – it was an approximately 20-meter (66 feet) meteoroid with an estimated mass of 7,000 to 10,000 tons. An estimated 500 kilotons of energy was released by the explosion – at least 30 times more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.

In 1908 the most powerful meteor blast in modern times occurred near the Stony Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate (now Krasnoyarsk Krai), Russia, on the morning of 30 June 1908. Studies have yielded different estimates of the meteoroid’s size, on the order of 60 to 190 meters (200 to 620 feet), depending on whether the body was a comet or a denser asteroid.

The Tunguska explosion flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an area of 2000 km2 (770 sq miles).

Meteorologist Simon Proud has published the photos of the meteor which exploded over the Bering Sea captured by Japan’s Himawari 8 weather satellite on his Twitter account.

Sources

  • Meteor blast over the Bering Sea was 10 times size of Hiroshima on The Guardian
  • A meteor exploded over the Bering Sea with the energy of 10 atomic bombs on Popular Science

M. Özgür Nevres

I am a software developer, a former road racing cyclist, and a science enthusiast. Also an animal lover! I write about the planet Earth and science on this website, ourplnt.com. You can check out my social media profiles by clicking on their icons.

Latest posts by M. Özgür Nevres (see all)

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.