A new study reveals that the enormously gigantic asteroid that became the doom of dinosaurs on Earth may have also led to the rise in climate-changing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The global devastation by the space object could have been far worse than thought.
Researchers at Imperial College London's Department of Earth Science and Engineering created a new model of the catastrophe that occurred 66 million years ago by using a combination of 3D numerical impact simulations and geophysical data from the site of the impact, according to the news statement on Science Daily. The new simulations are "first-ever fully 3D simulations" to reimagine the whole scenario that details the initial impact to the moment when the last crater Chicxulub was created, which is located underneath the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico.
The scientists performed the simulations showcasing the collision of the asteroid--that is believed to be larger than Mount Everest—with Earth on the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) DiRAC High Performance Computing Facility. The findings revealed that the asteroid probably struck the Earth at 60 degrees angle which not only led to the extinction of the entire species of dinosaurs but also unleashing massive amounts of harmful gases in the earth's upper atmosphere.
As per the report, "billions of tonnes of sulphur" was let loose in the Earth's environment which may have blocked out the sun and caused what is described as "nuclear winter" bringing an end to 75 percent of life on all of the earth.
"For the dinosaurs, the worst-case scenario is exactly what happened. The asteroid strike unleashed an incredible amount of climate-changing gases into the atmosphere, triggering a chain of events that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. This was likely worsened by the fact that it struck at one of the deadliest possible angles," lead researcher Professor Gareth Collins explained.
"Our simulations provide compelling evidence that the asteroid struck at a steep angle, perhaps 60 degrees above the horizon, and approached its target from the north-east. We know that this was among the worst-case scenarios for the lethality on impact because it put more hazardous debris into the upper atmosphere and scattered it everywhere -- the very thing that led to a nuclear winter," he added.
It is said the release of sulphur would have been the most hazardous outcome of the collision that may have put halt to all sorts of life by rapidly cooling the climate. In addition to simulations, the team studied rocks from the 200 km-wide craters, and it was found out that they were subjected to "extreme forces" that were generated by the impact.
The study was published in Nature Communications.