A really, really, *really* bad day, astronomically-speaking

One of the people on one of the maiing lists I’m on sent a message around with the following link:


It’s a YouTube video about what happens when a 500-km asteroid hits the Pacific Ocean. Hint: for ‘atmosphere’ think ‘silicate vapour’.

He adds, "Click on the ‘more’ link in the ‘About This Video’ box for an English translation of the Japanese narration (you’ll still get a pretty good picture even without the narrative). "

Some of the other videos referenced on the same page are rather interesting as well. There’s one about the formation of the moon.


Dead Earth. Very cool.

I want one!

Well, that was moderately disturbing. The only positive effect seems to be that the entire incident would propagate so quickly that we wouldn’t notice.

I was moderately amused by the notion that the Parthenon is sufficiently well built not to be pounded to flinders by the storm of rock.

Anyone know what those Valencians at the very end were up to?

The part I found most disturbing was the shot at about the 2:00 mark, where it appears that Don King’s hair expanded to galactic proportion and achieved geosynchronus orbit.

About a minute later, it appears that somehow, an extra-uberlarge cheese pizza is somehow being supported by Don King’s hair.

Then towards the end, it appears that the glactic pizza of doom has collapsed upon the earth, which means that Don King’s hair is now embeded in the crust. Yuck.

That’s a bad astrological day, too.

The presenter seems rather chipper about the whole thing.

All I´m going to tell you is that they didn´t bother with any prophylactic measures…

For my art I didn´t see the development of the planetary doomification as particulary plausible, as Oakminister points out, after the cataclismic hairdo it all went downhill.

I’m on dialup, so it hasn’t finished downloading yet. I’ve seen the first 11 seconds of video and I’m already sceptical of the scientific validity of the animation. Why is the asteroid glowing? It hasn’t even hit the atmosphere yet, and it’s brimming with what looks like lava?

I was wondering about that too. Heating due to tidal stresses, due to being inside the Roche limit? But I don’t know whether that would hold for a 500-km-diameter body. It was big enough to have been pulled into a spherical shape at one point.

I am not an astrophysicist who studies such things, but that video appeared to be made by somebody with far more time on their computer than time in research. Good but not great animation but little if any science. As has been pointed out, the meteor was already glowing long before it hit the atmosphere. And it is a 500 km object-and it cast a city-sized shadow before it hits?? That doesn’t seem reasonable at all. Looks like someone interested in showing off their animation skills talked to a couple of astronomers and took some casual comments and made a fantasy video.

for a more realistic model see:

I wasn’t able to come up with any simulations for a 500km object.

Well, that was going to be my other nitpick. Asteroid Vesta is 525km in diameter, and it isn’t spherical.

I was wondering about that too. I figured that the thing was mostly molten as a result of some other interaction (being ejected from Jupiter’s brow, or whatever).

Hm. Velikovsky simulation, maybe?

Another minor nitpick, just for the hell of it: the shadow passes over Tokyo in the wrong direction. The shadow is first seen crossing Japan from west to east, but then the close-up has the shadow moving from Yoyogi Park out toward Mt. Fuji, east to west.

Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis would have blown up that asteroid waaaay before it got close enough to melt Don King’s 'fro.

Dude, that is like, so obviously faked! I mean, something like that would have totally been in the news!

Besides, who filmed it? Who filmed it?? Answer me that! Hah!

Wanna bet it would have been in the news?
As Wednesday morning dawned, northern Norway was hit with an impact comparable to the atomic bomb used on Hiroshima.

… heard anything about that?

Well, I don’t know what the “sphering point” is for geologic bodies in space, but those two things aren’t necessarily in conflict, even if the asteroid is made of the same substance as Vesta.

Something that becomes a sphere of 500 km diameter would be much longer if it were potato-shaped instead.