What fell down in the taiga on the Podkamennaya Tunguska River on 30 June 1908? For years, scientists (and completely unscientific supporters of conspiracy theories) have been having heated arguments over this topic. It seems that they will be able to finish them just now.
The last Planetary and Space Science journal published a work which dispels these doubts. It was the explosion of a meteor. It knocked down trees within a radius of 40 km and was visible within a radius of 650 km. It is estimated that it had the energy of 3-5 megaton of TNT. For comparison, the Chelyabinsk meteor struck with the energy of merely 460 kiloton of TNT.
After the crash, many scientific expeditions were sent to Siberia in order to find the remains. In the 50s and 60s, hundreds of microscopic residues were discovered in the soil, but it was not possible to definitively determine their origin, which only incited more and more fantastic discussions about the causes of the disaster (the minds of fantasts were inspired by various scenarios – from black holes to antimatter). Researchers bet on three possible causes: a meteor, a comet, an asteroid.
Now, a team of scientists from the Institute of Geochemistry and Mineralogy of the National Academy of Sciences in Kiev studied tiny samples (of a size of less than a millimetre in diameter) once again using advanced techniques. Their composition leaves no doubt: they are the remains of an iron meteorite. This confirms one of the hypotheses which was based on modelling the disaster effects. According to these models, only the explosion of a stone meteor could have wrought such havoc.