Scientists have warned that asteroids big enough to cause ‘continental’ damage could be lurking within a new branch of the regular Taurid meteor shower – which intersects with Earth.
Researchers at the Czech Academy of Sciences writing in Astronomy and Astrophysics, warn that a previously undiscovered branch of the Taurids could harbour asteroids of up to ‘several hundred meters in diameter’.
The Taurid meteor shower is believed to be the source of the 500ft meteor which exploded in the sky over the Stony Tunguska river in 1908.
The Tunguska event, in 1908, was the largest impact event in recorded history, destroying 80 million trees over an area of 800 square miles in the Siberian forest.
Researchers analysed 144 fireballs from the Southern Taurids between October 25 and November 17 2015, according to The Register.
‘Based on orbital similarity, we argue that asteroids of several hundred meters in diameter are members of the Taurid new branch as well,’ the researcher write.
If there are asteroid-sized chunks lurking in the Southern Taurids, they could cause damage ‘at the continental scale’, the researchers say.
‘Most probably, the branch also includes many undetected asteroids which are dozens of metres in diameter or larger,’ the researchers write.
‘Hence, the danger of a crash with an asteroid grows markedly once every few years that the Earth encounters this stream of inter-planetary material.’