One of the great fears of all the inhabitants of the planet Earth it is what would happen if all of life suddenly disappears at once, either from the fall of a large meteorite or from the collision with another heavy object from space.
Precisely the latter is what researchers from the universities of Durham y Glasgow, who wanted to study what happened to the Earth’s atmosphere if it collided with another planet at high speed.
To simulate this improbable collision they have resorted to a supercomputer called COSMA (Cosmology Machine) capable of simulating the effects at the level of both the planet’s atmosphere and the different layers that compose it.
“We examined the mechanisms by which the atmosphere can be eroded by giant impacts on Earth-like planets with thin atmospheres, using hydrodynamic simulations of 3D smoothed particles with sufficient resolution to directly model the fate of low-mass atmospheres. We present a simple scale law to estimate the lost fraction for any angle of impact and speed in this regime. In the canonical impact of the Moon’s formation, only about 10% of the atmosphere would have been lost due to the immediate effects of the collision, “the researchers comment.
What these scientists do warn is that, “For frontal impacts, a slightly higher speed can suddenly remove much more atmosphere.”
The logical conclusion is that the place of the impact, the speed and especially the angle is what would determine the degree of destruction of our planet.
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