An asteroid is believed to have wiped out the dinosaurs -but could still be a strike of a huge space rock lead to the end of humanity.
Now, scientists have spelled out exactly how an asteroid can kill the people unlucky enough to be caught under a when – or if – the stores in the Earth.
What are the seven different ways asteroids can kill us?
Researchers from the University of Southampton set out seven different risks caused by an asteroid collision.
They published a paper discussing “asteroid impact effects, and their immediate hazards to human populations” on the same day that a meteorite the size of the Rock of Gibraltar zoomed in uncomfortably close to the Earth.
The team used computer simulations to assess the risk by 50,000 different sizes of the asteroid.
Their research showed that asteroids caused much more death and destruction as they smashed into the ground or exploded in the air above a landmass in an “airburst”, rather than crashing into the sea and caused a tsunami.
“The analysis of the average number of victims per impactor [asteroid] shows that there is a significant difference in the expected loss for airburst and surface effects and that the average effect over land is an order of magnitude more dangerous than one on the water,” the team wrote.
As you might expect, the researchers also found that the larger asteroids pose more of a risk than smaller ones.
However, the space rocks that were smaller than about 40 feet in diameter were more likely to explode in an airburst, which is a different kind of risk for the people below.
The asteroid 4 Vesta is so large can be currently be seen as it travels through the constellation of Sagittarius.
With a diameter of 326 km, it is 50 times larger than the meteor that wiped out the dinosaurs.
The largest crater is 285 km in diameter.
Although not to be afraid of certain asteroid is not expected to hit Earth.
They are seven different ways in which space rocks could cause “loss of life”, which we have provided below.
The wind generated when an asteroid hits the Earth or succeed in an airburst is the “most critical effect”.
Any gusts of wind caused by an asteroid impact are probably so severe that they “subvert the bodies and objects to cause damage”.
The wind caused by a large space rock would tear people limb from limb and knock the buildings down on top of them.
An asteroid needs to be only 18 feet wide to cause casualties in this way, the researchers found.
This is the scientific term for the shock wave caused when a meteorite explodes in the air or crashes into the ground or into the sea.
It is this effect that causes injury when a meteorite exploded in the sky above the Russian city of Chelyabinsk.
The researchers wrote: “Most of the damage and injuries during that event were caused by the aerodynamic shock that knocked people to the ground and damaged structures and windows, allowing for indirect injuries by flying shards.”
Pressure may also rupture of the internal organs”.
If the asteroid is big enough, the overpressure would be effective pulp victims’ inside.
If an asteroid hits our planet, it will cause a huge fireball.
The effects of these are likely to be devastating for anyone who is in the open air if effect occurs.
If the asteroid hits a city or exploded above, buildings are likely to set on fire – with the larger asteroids causing fireballs that are miles wide.
While the man would be able to shelter from the fireballs caused by the smaller space rocks to take shelter in the cellars, the risks of a larger object, are so great that the cities would have to be evacuated if there is a risk of an asteroid impact.
When an object hits a planet, it usually causes a huge crater.
Sometimes the force is so great that the asteroid immediately melts away.
However, the chance is probably very small, unless you’re unlucky enough to be in the exact area where the crater is formed.
But by the time cratering occurred, you would most likely have been blown to smithereens by the pressure or be burned in a fireball.
The process of cratering is likely to throw up a huge amount of stones and debris in the air.
Some of these particles are likely to be red hot, which means that they could begin with the continued burning, even after the fireball had subsided.
Others will be very heavy, which means that they would squash anyone in their way.
However, both the ejecta and cratering can be considered as a low-risk, because humans are already killed by the other effects of an asteroid impact.
If the object is large enough, however, it would be to send material flying in the air which could block the sun.
If this material is linger in the atmosphere long enough to be sure that the plants die slowly starve everything on Earth.
If an asteroid plunged into the ocean, it would inevitably lead to a massive wave.
This has the potential to kill people who are far enough from the asteroid to be safe from the fireball and overpressure.
But a tsunami wave takes a long time to spread over a great ocean, give people the chance to save themselves by climbing to higher ground.
“Tsunamis can only reach in the near-coastal populations, because of their inland reach is limited to a few kilometers,” added the researchers.
They found that the tsunamis are less of a risk than previously thought.
An asteroid impact would probably cause an earthquake.
But quakes are only considered as only a “small” effect on the number of victims.
The asteroid, it is unlikely that the same kind of devastation caused by the kind of natural disasters people are familiar with.
If you are far enough from the asteroid that you don’t have to worry about being burned alive or blown to bits, you probably don’t have to worry about earthquakes shaking your house down on top of you.
This story originally appeared in The Sun.