A huge ball of fire exploded in the sky above the Atlantic this month with the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb, NASA says.
The space rock is the largest event of its kind since the fireball which exploded over Russia’s Chelyabinsk in 2013, leaving 1,600 injured.
The space rock struck at 2pm on February 6, off the coast of Brazil.
It exploded with an energy equivalent to 13,000 tons of TNT – only slightly less than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.
For comparison, the Chelyabinsk explosion had a yield of 500,000 tons of TNT.
During the 2013 Chelyabinsk event, the asteroid, with a mass of about 12 000 tonnes and a size of 60 feet, hit the upper atmosphere at a shallow angle and a speed of about 12 miles per second, exploding with the energy of 480 kilotons of TNT at an altitude of 16 to 18 miles.
More than 1500 people were injured and 7300 buildings damaged by the intense overpressure generated by the shockwave at Earth’s surface.
Many people were injured by shards of flying glass as they peered out of windows to see what was happening.
Experts estimate that the object was probably up to 20 feet in diameter, and ‘probably’ exploded as it burned up in our atmosphere.
Phil Plait, editor of the Bad Astronomy blog, says, ‘Events this size aren’t too big a concern.
‘Had it happened over a populated area it, would’ve rattled some windows and probably terrified a lot of people, but I don’t think it would’ve done any real damage.
The impact was reported by NASA’s Ron Baalke via the space agency’s Near-Earth Object Fireball page.