by Riley Black/Smithsonianmag.com
It was the worst day in the history of life on Earth. One moment, the Age of Dinosaurs lumbered on as it had for millions and millions of years. The next, a roughly six-mile-wide chunk of space rock slammed into the Earth, kicking off a mass extinction that would wipe out the non-avian dinosaurs and many other forms of life. …more than 66 million years later, researchers have begun to pinpoint where that cataclysm-sparking piece of rock came from.
The fact that a huge piece of extraterrestrial rock struck what is now the Yucatan Peninsula 66 million years ago is not controversial. And, year by year, …The incredible heat of impact debris returning to the atmosphere, global wildfires and a dust cloud that blocked the sun for years all played a role. In the end, almost three quarters of known species went extinct during the cataclysm.
So far, however, ….. No one really knew where the dino-destroying rock came from or how it came to intersect our planet’s orbit.
Published in Scientific Reports today, the new study by astronomers Amir Siraj and Avi Loeb of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, propose that a series of break-ups and chance events sent the huge chunk of space rock our way.