The Great Chelyabinsk Bolide of February 15, 2013
The fireball lunged forward when the flash died down enough to follow the progress in the many videos captured of the event, with some smaller white hot remnants continuing on as the long burst region cooled. One larger cloud rose from the site of maximum energy release, and several smaller 'puffs' further behind sorted themselves apart and rose from the main smoke trail.
Many videos were made of the entry, and more were made as people reacted to the sight and went outside to record the smoke trail for themselves. The arrival of the shock wave from the terminal burst was thus well documented. A tremendous crashing boom announced its arrival, with secondary booms going on and on like an explosives factory accident, car alarms, screams, and cascades of broken glass heard in the foreground. It took over 2 minutes between the burst and the arrival of the sound/shock wave, with smaller trailing pieces shed along the way contributing their own noise later.
The city of Chelyabinsk, with its grim and eventful history, added widespread damage by a celestial visitor to its distinction. In wide regions virtually every window facing the blast had the frames for multiple windows caved in, glass driven inside and spilling in front of the buildings. Over 1000 people were cut by flying glass, and weak structured buildings had their ceilings caved in across a wide region tens of kilometers across bounded by the city in its North. The overpressure (beyond the normal 14.6 ish PSI, pound force per square inch at sea level) arriving suddenly can do great damage. In this case, about 0.4 PSI worth of force slammed into the region, in many videos looking almost like atomic test films of old with doors slammed open, windows smashed and in one case a large factory losing part of its roof. Indeed, this blast was of the size range of many nuclear tests, equivalent to some 440 kilotons of TNT. This is what an 11,000 ton house sized object making a hypervelocity entry can do.
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Contact us to request publication permission from the copyright holder. Original image data dated on or about February 15, 2013