Posted 14 февраля 2023,, 15:12

Published 14 февраля 2023,, 15:12

Modified 14 февраля 2023,, 20:12

Updated 14 февраля 2023,, 20:12

What the meteorite that fell 10 years ago near Chelyabinsk has changed in science and people's minds

What the meteorite that fell 10 years ago near Chelyabinsk has changed in science and people's minds

14 февраля 2023, 15:12
On February 15, most residents of Chelyabinsk celebrate their second birth. A meteorite exploded over the city 10 years ago. Then the whole country got off with a slight fright, but if he had flown a little differently, everything could have gone differently. What trace in history did this cosmic event leave?

Alexander Dybin

The Chelyabinsk meteorite fell on February 15, 2013.

At about 9:20, a bright flash occurred over Chelyabinsk, which attracted the attention of the entire city. A minute later, a shock wave reached the ground, which shattered the windows in thousands of buildings. The most serious destruction caused by the meteorite: the wall of the old workshop of the Zinc plant collapsed, and also led to the construction of the ice palace "Ural Lightning", to which there were questions without the meteorite. Several people were cut by shrapnel. Basically, they were those who did not teach OBZH (health and safety training course - editor's note) well, where they explained that after a bright flash it was necessary to hide, and not stand at the window, filming what was happening on the phone. The most serious injury was sustained by a woman who fell at the time of the shock wave, she broke her arm. The meteorite itself, leaving a dust cloud in the sky, flew a little further and fell into Lake Chebarkul, a few kilometers from the town of the same name.

The fact that it was a rebirth, people realized a little later. The scientists explained that the flight path was exceptionally successful: it flew past, fell into the water. Or it could have fallen on the city, or it could have entered the atmosphere in another place, which means that the shock wave would have been stronger. When the meteorite was sawn, even astrophysicists crossed themselves. It turned out to be made of stone, which means it is more fragile than metal. And once upon a time, he already experienced a collision and flew close to the sun, which made him even more loose, and therefore less dangerous.

"My scariest birthday"


"It so happened that February 15 is my birthday," says Lyubov Rudometova, a journalist from Chebarkul, who worked as a press secretary of the mayor's office in 2013, "on that day we went to the city of Asha, where an event was to be held with the participation of the heads of small towns of the Chelyabinsk region. But when they arrived at the place, they saw a fuss. No one understood exactly what had happened, as the information came in fragments from Chelyabinsk, where windows were broken in buildings, people were injured… A man passed by us and he asked me seriously: "Are you from Chebarkul?". I said - yes. He first fell silent, and then quietly said that the news on Channel One showed that Chebarkul was no more.

We stood rooted to the spot and looked at each other in silence for a while. And then they took out their phones and started calling home. I have my children at home – a son and a daughter. The phone was still silent, and I stood and dialed my son's number over and over again, tears streaming down my face. For the thousandth time, the phone rang. I was already on the verge of hysteria when I heard my son's voice: "Mom, did you hear that a meteorite fell on us" - my son spoke animatedly into the phone. And I stood and cried with infinite happiness that my children, my relatives and friends are alive, that Chebarkul is.On the night of February 15-16, the first foreign group of journalists from Japan arrived in Chebarkul.

We learned about their arrival in the morning from the police. The guests arrived in the city at night when everything was closed. For some reason, the Japanese decided that February in the Southern Urals was not too frosty, and in those days the air temperature dropped below 25 degrees Celsius at night. They arrived in Chebarkul in light jackets and sneakers. They realized that they had nowhere to turn, because it was night outside, they wandered around the city for about an hour and were very cold, they were accidentally met by a police patrol, to whom they told who they were and where they came from, after which the journalists were taken to the city police station, where they were warmed up with hot tea."The meteorite brought a new form of carbon

Perhaps the main legacy of the meteorite is its contribution to science. This is the first such event that has been recorded from a thousand different angles. In addition, tons of meteoritic material were found.

- The peak of scientific research occurred in the first years after the fall of the Chelyabinsk meteorite, - says the rector of Chelyabinsk State University Sergey Taskaev, - the main questions during this period were: what is the meteorite itself and what it consists of, where it came from, what is its age, initial mass, where it fell and where it is (and is is it) the main fragment of a meteorite, and, in the end, how dangerous is the fall of such cosmic bodies.- What are the brightest and most interesting ones?

What conclusions did the scientists draw?- In my opinion, the most interesting studies are those that are conducted using new methods or new research facilities.

In particular, these are studies using 3D tomography, synchrotron radiation, ion microscopy, neutronography, etc. This approach allows you to look deeper into the materials of cosmic origin, to more accurately determine their properties. A lot of research has been done. One of the recent ones, for example, is due to the fact that by studying U-Pb phosphates and the microstructure of the meteorite, scientists concluded that the Chelyabinsk meteorite in the past was part of a larger body involved in the formation of our Moon satellite.

- What has science learned about the Chelyabinsk meteorite in particular or the universe in general?- For example, how protected are we from the fall of such bodies.

Many people remember the massive damage from the shock wave and the frequently asked question: what would have happened if this meteoroid had reached the surface of the earth? We studied this issue separately, and it turned out that our atmosphere protects us very well from the fall of stone meteorites of this size. But only from the stone ones, to which this case belongs, and this kind of meteorites make up about 93%. We studied various models of falling bodies of similar size: at different angles of entry into the atmosphere, with different speeds, and it turned out that the main energy release occurs at altitudes over 20 km. And the faster the meteoroid flies, the faster it burns up in the atmosphere, because the release of energy as a result of friction is proportional to the square of the velocity of the falling body. Separately, I note that the process of energy release does not occur at one point, but is distributed over a section of the trajectory, which makes the impact of combustion (explosion) not so dramatic. In other words, the meteoroid had no chance to reach the surface in its original state. But this applies only to stone meteorites, in the case of a fall of iron (this is about 5% of the registered meteorites) or iron-stone (about 1% of all) it doesn't work anymore. Although such falls are extremely rare, but the consequences of them affect the entire planet as a whole. The largest known crater on planet Earth is located on Wilkes Land in Antarctica and has a diameter of about 500 km. It remained from the fall of a large cosmic body with a diameter of about several tens of kilometers 250 million years ago. This decline seems to have been the impetus for the mass extinction in the Permian period, which led to the extinction of 96% of all marine species and 73% of terrestrial vertebrate species.- ChelSU also made a discovery while studying a meteorite, tell us about it?

- The idea to collect dust after the fall of the Chelyabinsk meteorite belongs to my colleague Nikolai Gorky.

It was only after we collected these samples that we realized how unique the material was in our hands, the fact is that neither before nor after anyone managed to collect meteorite dust in such a concentration as after the fall of the Chelyabinsk meteorite. Earlier, when studying dust fragments, a stable opinion was formed about micrometeorites as spherical particles with a clear sign of melting. However, in addition to them, other objects were also found, for example, filamentous inclusions observed in ice cores collected in the ice of Antarctica. They were considered an accidental admixture of earthly origin. The formation of such mineral filaments in nature has been known for a long time. When volcanoes erupt, cold air tears droplets from the molten rock and pulls them into threads, the so-called "Pele hair", which can be carried by wind currents over vast distances. As the results of our study show, such filaments can also be formed during the combustion of fireballs, which will allow us to revise the evidence base for dating the fall of large stone meteorites in the past. This is the first. Secondly, carbon has many allotropic modifications – from graphite to diamond, from carbine to fullerenes and nanotubes. We managed to find a new form of existence of carbon materials, which was formed under strong external influences that existed during the fall of the meteoroid, as a result of crystallization of dissociated carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide on fullerenes and nanotubes, the concentration of which in the atmosphere is different from zero. The practical significance of this study is determined by the study of materials potentially suitable for use. However, this study is aimed at studying rather rare objects and is more fundamental than applied, at the same time, the possibility of the existence of very unusual ordered carbon structures, possibly with the potential of application in practice, is shown.

Meteorite in numbers

Chelyabinsk car is the largest in the last 100 years, the second most powerful explosion after Tunguska.

Weight — 13 thousand tons.

The speed of the asteroid was 19 km/s. The most distant part of its orbit lies in the main asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter.

The age almost coincides with the age of the Solar system — 4.56 billion years.Composition:

90% — silicates, 5% — sulfides and 5% — iron and nickel.

The surface of the earth reached no more than 1%, the rest evaporated or turned into fine dust.

A trace in history

Interestingly, the fallen meteorite significantly changed the course of the political history of the region. The natural disaster helped Mikhail Yurevich, the governor of the Chelyabinsk Region, to stay in office. In those years, he waged a fierce war against a group of merchants and security forces. The inter-elite conflict has already been noticed in Moscow and a decision was made to dismiss the head of the region, but a celestial body arrived. They did not leave the region without management in a crisis situation, although the consequences were not catastrophic. But still, it was necessary to urgently restore the glazing in thousands of houses. To do this, it was necessary to find materials, arrange for their delivery with payment retroactively, contract hundreds of window installers who spent days restoring double-glazed windows, etc. It is already clear after the fact that the meteorite postponed Yurevich's resignation for almost a year.

It has become a meme and a local brand. Soon after the fall, the meteorite was tried to be integrated into the not very developed tourist sphere of Chelyabinsk. So there were T-shirts and mugs with the inscription "nothing is as invigorating as a meteorite in the morning." The local confectionery factory remembered that back in the Soviet years there were such sweets "Meteorite", and they began to be produced with reference to the event. Someone released a car flavor with the smell of a meteorite. But all this soon took its place on the only tourist ruin in the city center between red underpants and stone crafts.

A couple of years in Chelyabinsk discussed the project of the monument to perpetuate this event. But the fuse was only enough for discussion. Monuments, very modest, appeared in Chabarkul. A buoy with a sign was fixed on the water area of the lake, and a large stele was placed on the shore. Five years later, the talk that the meteorite would give an incredible boost to tourism to a small town with resort potential (Chebarkul is located among five lakes and near the reserve) finally subsided. Journalist Lyubov Rudometova believes that the whole meteoric theme has come to naught in the city due to the fact that the administration was seized by corruption scandals and there was simply no one to realize the resulting charge of PR.

"The fifth anniversary of the fall of the meteorite in February 2018 was celebrated modestly and can be said by the forces of the public. Then this topic subsided almost completely. The reason could be corruption scandals in the municipal government of the city. And the Chelyabinsk region was also shaken by such scandals. In my opinion, those in power were not up to a meteorite from the word "absolutely", - says the interlocutor of Novye Izvestia, - meanwhile, this topic has not completely died out. In Chebarkul there is a shop "Chebarkul souvenir", where you can buy magnets, mugs, chocolate and other meteorite-themed products, in the city museum of local lore there is an exposition dedicated to the meteorite. Russians still come to rest in our city and visit, including the place of the fall."

One of the few places where the memory of this event is preserved is the Museum of the history of the Southern Urals, where the largest fragment of a meteorite lifted from the bottom of the lake is stored. This point is mandatory to visit if you come to Chelyabinsk. The director of the museum, Vladimir Bogdanovsky, in an interview with a correspondent of Novye Izvestia, suggested that the millionth Chelyabinsk simply absorbed the meteorite in terms of information.

"If all this had happened in some small city that does not have such a powerful industry, which would not be the flagship in many respects in Russia, then it would have been a coup, all the attention of the public and guests would certainly have been on the meteorite, it would have been advertising," he says, "and we have the millionth city. All the same, the attention was huge for a while. There was then a rise, then a decline in interest. Now the rise is due to the 10th anniversary. And this is adequate to the city and its concerns. All guests, especially foreign ones, come to us without fail to look at the meteorite. People bring their guests, relatives, friends, too. And that's great. According to our estimates, the meteorite increased the museum's attendance by 30%. Does the city need something more? They talk about a separate museum, monument or street. This is a controversial issue. Will a separate museum be as effective as our exposition, which works in conjunction with other halls dedicated to the history of the region? I think that now the attention to the meteorite is worthy both from the media, and from guests and residents. And the slightest news about him is scattered. As it was when the dome suddenly rose, which covered the meteorite. We are still talking about it and wondering why it happened. We did all the research, there was no human intervention here, but no one else proved that it was due to some phenomenon. At the same time, the news about this literally flew around the whole world. I think it's great that we, as a region, have such an additional attractive element, but we need to work ourselves, promote our products and our work".