This is what would happen if an asteroid hit New York (Synopsis)

"By preventing dangerous asteroid strikes, we can save millions of people, or even our entire species. And, as human beings, we can take responsibility for preserving this amazing evolutionary experiment of which we and all life on Earth are a part." -Rusty Schweickart

Asteroid strikes are among the most destructive natural disasters to ever impact planet Earth. While an extinction-level event, like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago, are exceedingly rare, we face city-killer impacts somewhere on Earth's surface every few hundred years.

Meteor (Barringer) crater, in the Arizona desert, is over 1.1 km (0.7 mi) in diameter, and represents only a 3-10 MegaTon release of energy. A 300-400 meter asteroid strike would release 10-100 times the energy. Image credit: USGS/D. Roddy. Meteor (Barringer) crater, in the Arizona desert, is over 1.1 km (0.7 mi) in diameter, and represents only a 3-10 MegaTon release of energy. A 300-400 meter asteroid strike would release 10-100 times the energy. Image credit: USGS/D. Roddy.

If one such event happened over an actual city, the chain reaction of destructive events would begin with a fireball, followed by thermal radiation, causing millions of people to die. Buildings would be leveled for an even greater distance, while inevitable destruction would continue far beyond that. But the greatest number of people would suffer from burns, even from scores or hundreds of miles away.

The consequences of a 500 meter-sized asteroid striking Chicago. Image credit: InsuranceQuotes with NASA data, via http://www.insurancequotes.com/home/near-earth-close-calls-cosmos. The consequences of a 500 meter-sized asteroid striking Chicago. Image credit: InsuranceQuotes with NASA data, via http://www.insurancequotes.com/home/near-earth-close-calls-cosmos.

The asteroid that struck Lake Michigan yesterday was luckily harmless, but the threat of a city-killer is a real one we're woefully unprepared for. Find out what would happen today!

More like this

"Bringing an asteroid back to Earth? What's that have to do with space exploration? If we were moving outward from there, and an asteroid is a good stopping point, then fine. But now it's turned into a whole planetary defense exercise at the cost of our outward exploration." -Buzz Aldrin Between…
“If the world wants you, it's gonna keep on coming till it gets you. And who am I that can fix it? Who am I that can change this if the world wants it so badly? Who am I to stop the end of the world if it keeps on coming?” -Patrick Ness It's been a wonderful and diverse week over at the main Starts…
A day ~575 million years ago seemed like any other. Life was simple, not as in life was easy, but organisms were simple creatures. Then, geologically-speaking, BAMM!, complex life forms. Sure they were not the showy creatures of today, but the Ediacara biota (580Ma) of centimeter- to meter-sized…
“Don't wake me for the end of the world unless it has very good special effects.” -Roger Zelazny It's always the ones you least expect that get you the worst, it seems. I went to bed last night excited that Asteroid 2012 DA14, a 200,000 ton asteroid, was going to pass within just 28,000 km (or 17,…

Why is radiation listed twice radiation and thermal radiation? Do you mean the fireball would be hot enough to emit x-rays?

By Michael Hutson (not verified) on 15 Feb 2017 #permalink

Have to ask, though, what if it happened when Trump was in NY?

Thermal would be IR. But if you can see the fireball, that would be visible radiation. Do you mean visible rays are thermal heat?