Thursday, October 29, 2009

Indonesian Bolide of October 8

Back on Thursday, October 8, around 11 am local time, the people of the coastal town of Bone on the island of Sulewesi, Indonesia, were frightened by thunderous sounds and shaking walls. The people rushed out of their homes, thinking they were in the middle of yet another earthquake. They were met by the sight of a twisting trail of debris in the sky. What they had experienced was in fact the result of an exploding fireball, which is called a bolide.

The bolide was caused by an asteroid with an estimated width of about 10 meters (33 feet). Atmospheric pressure caused it to explode, releasing an amount of energy equivalent to a small atomic bomb. The explosion triggered infrasound sensors of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) more than 10,000 km away. Analysis of the infrasound data revealed an explosion at latitude 4.5˚ S, longitude 120˚ E, close to Bone, with a yield of about 50 kilotons (100,000 pounds) of TNT, about two or three times the power of World War II-era atomic bombs.

The asteroid that caused the blast was not known to astronomers before the event. According to statistical studies of the near-Earth asteroid population, such objects are expected to collide with Earth on average every 2 to 12 years.

Those are just the barest of details, but I thought I would share. To get first-hand information on this event, check out these links:

YouTube Video of Local News Broadcast

October 8th Article by the Jakarta Globe

October 8th Article by the Jakarta Post

To learn more on what has been learned so far, and to learn about NASA’s Asteroid Watch program and NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, check out these links:

NEO Program October 19 Press Release

Twitter Page for NASA’s Asteroid Watch

NASA’s Asteroid Watch

NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program


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