PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A new study from University of Texas at Austin is giving a clearer picture of what happened the day dinosaurs became extinct 65 million years ago. An asteroid with the power of 10 billion atomic bombs crashed into the Earth, setting off a day of wildfires, earthquakes, and tsunamis that lead to a prolonged period of global cooling.
The research team made the discoveries using rocks found off the Yucatan Peninsula. According to the study, “the blast ignited trees and plants that were thousands of miles away and triggered a massive tsunami that reached as far inland as Illinois.”
Derrick Pitts, chief astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, called it “the most eventful day” in the planet’s history.
“This thing was six miles wide, it created a crater 90 miles wide, 18 miles deep and it blew up 25 trillion metric tons of material into the atmosphere,” Pitts told “CBS This Morning.” “It tells us this is not something that is isolated. We can have asteroid impacts in the future. Right now, we know there aren’t any big asteroids that are anywhere near us but small ones are still around that can still cause problems for us.”
Pitts explained if the asteroid hit anywhere else, the planet could look different today.
“It is because if the asteroid had not hit that particular location and in time, it could’ve been a very different outcome for the planet. That particular impact region at that particular time created this world that we have now because it altered the planet because of its impact there. If it had hit somewhere else, we could’ve had a different planet,” Pitts said.
Pitts added that people shouldn’t be concerned about another planet-killing asteroid hitting Earth anytime soon.
“We know there aren’t any more planet killers out there in the next thousand years or so,” he said.