Machine Design
The meteor heard ‘round the world

The meteor heard ‘round the world

The meteor that arced across Russia last February is estimated to have had the energy of 30 nuclear bombs and it injured more than 1,500 as it passed. It also created a low-frequency sound that could be heard 6,000 miles away.

The meteor that streaked over Russia last February was heard entering the atmosphere by Georgia Institute of Technology researchers at Lilburn, Ga., almost 6,000 miles away. They used an infrasound listening station, one of 400 that make up the USArray in the Eastern U. S. They heard the sound about 10 hr after the 55-ft-diameter, 7,000-ton meteor hit the atmosphere going 40,000 mph.

Researchers are sure the sound originated from the meteor because all 400 USArray stations detected its movement across North America. The stations mainly record seismic activity inside the Earth, but they also pick up ultralong-period sound waves,or infrasound, such as that given off by the meteor as it traveled across the Earth. The sound created by the meteor could also be detected for the 10 hr after it entered the atmosphere.

Resources: Georgia Institute of Technology to see and “hear” the meteor.

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