Was Dinosaur-Killing Asteroid Part of Creating Tycho Crater?

Uncover the secrets of the dinosaur-killing in this article. The answer will surprise you.

The asteroid that blasted a 110-mile-wide crater in Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and presumably killed off the dinosaurs around 65 million years ago may owe its origin to the breakup of an asteroid almost as big as the crater itself.

An old collision between two massive asteroids produced the dino-killer space rock that crashed into Earth’s atmosphere and marked the beginning of the end for the dinosaurs. All this a new study claims.

Scientists think the heavenly smash-up took place about 160 million years ago in the asteroid belt. And is located between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. 

The Asteroid Must Have Been 40 Miles in Diameter

It must have come from the impact of an estimated 40-mile-wide asteroid with one averaging around 110 miles wide, the parent of 298 Baptistina. And the effect would have hurled many large chunks of debris into space.

So, the scientists think one of those pieces crashed into Earth around 65 million years ago and created the Chicxulub crater near Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. And another likely carved the Tycho crater on the moon, they said.

Peppered The Space Around Earth And The Moon With Asteroids

So, the massive explosion would have peppered the space around Earth and the moon with asteroids, and therefore doubling the overall rate of lunar and Earth Earth impacts for the next 100 million years. 

Among this shower would plunge dozens of dinosaur-killer asteroids six miles wider or more massive. And approximately one of which should have struck Earth, according to results published in Nature.

And a lot of researchers think that whatever comet or meteorite punched out the crater in the southern point of Mexico presumably flung up a cloud of dust that annihilated 75 percent or more of animal and plant species, and also including the dinosaurs, by choking off the sunlight that maintains the food chain. The so-called die-off, known as the K-T extinction, was the most significant mass extinction of the last 250 million years.

A Six-Mile Sized Carbonaceous Chondrite Projectile

The scientists and experts based chemical scans of 298 Baptistina that show it consists of a substance similar to carbonaceous chondrite, a unique material found in some asteroids.

And a six-mile sized carbonaceous chondrite is most plausibly the projectile that formed the Chicxulub Crater.

The chondrite, which is plentiful in carbon compounds and water, cropped up in samples dug from underneath Chicxulub. And based on the determined frequency of Earth impacts from such objects, they concluded there is more than 90 percent likelihood that the Chicxulub Crater resulted instead from the Baptistina hail.

The Same Shelling Formed Tycho Crater

So, the researchers say the same shelling may also have blasted the 53-mile-wide lunar crater Tycho, which was created about 109 million years ago during the shower’s calculated peak.

The scientists are supported by information collected from the Chicxulub crater by past researchers.

Baptistina Asteroid Family

So it was probably the leftover remnants from the Baptistina asteroid family.

The Babtistina family is named after its most significant still-orbiting member, 25 miles, 40 kilometers, in diameter, included initially about 300 rocky bodies larger than six miles or 10 kilometers across and about 140,000 objects larger than 0.6 miles or 1 kilometer across.

And after the colossal collision, the asteroid fragments were moved through space by absorbing and then reradiating sunlight, a mixture of processes that scientists have named the YORP and Yarkovsky effect.

Earth-Striking Asteroids

Several of the objects would have drifted into a nearby dynamical superhighway, which shuttled them through the central asteroid belt and into Earth-crossing orbits.

The surge of Earth-striking asteroids would account for what the scientists estimate to be a two-fold boost of the impact rate over the past 100 million to 200 million years. 

And one of these refugees struck the Earth’s atmosphere around 65 million years ago to form the Chicxulub crater, which has been strongly tied to the extinction of the dinosaurs on Earth. 

So, the impactor must’ve boasted a diameter of around six miles or 10 kilometers, to make such a large indentation. Furthermore, some of the fragments from that ancient collision are raining down on us still, according to the experts.

And it is considered today very likely that the Baptistina asteroid family is producing a significant amount of the interplanetary dust and micrometeorites that reaches Earth.

The fragments account for about 20 percent of the present-day, near-Earth asteroid population, according to scientists.

Forming The Tycho Crater

A powerful collision took place in the asteroid belt that extends between Jupiter and Mars 160 million years ago. 

A heavenly body of diameter 150 kilometers was smashed to pieces by the collision. And enormous amounts of dust and rock, together with thousands of bodies of size around 1 kilometer, were thrown out into the solar system. 

One of these, around 5 kilometers in diameter, crashed into the moon’s surface 108 million years ago to form the Tycho Crater. Most craters we see on the moon are more than 3.5 billion years old and were formed when the solar system was young. 

The Tycho Crater is the youngest of the large craters that we can see from Earth.

Ash From Tycho Crater Reached Earth

Sediment that formed on sea beds outside of the Californian coast 115-100 million years ago can be found around San Francisco. 

As time passed, the sediment was converted to rock. Internal forces in the Earth lifted this rock up, and it now lies exposed in the countryside. 

The layers have been tipped onto their sides so that they are now positioned vertically. Walking along the section of rock is like moving through time, one million years every four meters. 

The dust particles ejected when the Tycho Crater was formed should be positioned at the layer corresponding to exactly 108 million years ago. When they got the rock to a laboratory in Sweden, scientists dissolved the rock in acid and revealed it contained moon dust.

Picture showing the Chicxulub crater. The crater is positioned off the coast of present-day Mexico. Credit: MARK GARLICK/ SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.
Picture showing the Chicxulub crater. The crater is positioned off the coast of present-day Mexico. Credit: MARK GARLICK/ SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY.

Chemical Examination of Projectile Material Connected to The Chicxulub Event

Chemical examination of projectile material connected to the Chicxulub event is also said to tie its impactor to the kind of rocks that make up the Baptistina family.

And in February 2013, an international team of experts from Berkeley, Vrije University Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the Berkeley Geochronology Center and University of California, and the University of Glasgow, confirmed that the last of the dinosaurs died out 66,038,000 years ago – give or take 11,000 years. 

This ties in closely with the date of the Chicxulub impact and gives little room for doubt that the collision plays a significant role in the mass extinction. The team based their findings on a study of strata, bearing traces of debris from the asteroid impact, which lie near to the last fossil remains of dinosaurs.

Did Part Of The Asteroid That Created Tycho Killed The Dinosaurs?

Finally, a review of the paper by Bottke et al., in the journal Nature, comments. It is a touching thought that the Baptistina collision some 160 million years ago sealed the fate of the late Cretaceous dinosaurs well before most of them had evolved.

Is the Chicxulub Crater Visible?

The famous Chicxulub crater is not visible at the Earth’s surface like the popular Meteor Crater of Arizona. There are, however, two surface expressions of the crater. Radar measurements obtained from one of NASA’s space shuttles detected a subtle depression in the sediments that bury the huge crater.

If you want to learn more about how to view the Moon from a telescope or a pair of binocular, then head over to this interesting article: How To See The Moon: Best Telescope Viewing Tips.

Well, that’s it. Thanks for reading this article, and if you want to know everything there is to know about Tycho crater, then head over to my more extensive article about Tycho Crater here.

Do you want some more fascinating facts about our only satellite, then head over to this thought-provoking article: Moon Facts – Interesting & Strange Facts About The Moon.

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