When a meteor slammed into the atmosphere over the Russian Urals region on Feb. 15, 2013, the huge quantity of energy released was encapsulated in a powerful shock wave that blasted the city of Chelyabinsk, causing property damage and inflicting over 1,500 injuries. Now, after analysis of data gathered by global detectors used to detect ultra-low frequency acoustic waves, scientists have revealed that the meteor's shock wave traveled all the way around the globe, twice.
PHOTOS: Russian Meteor Strike Aftermath
The International Monitoring System (IMS) network operated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is used to detect infrasound evidence of nuclear tests, but on that February morning, the network detected the most powerful event it had ever seen. But this signal wasn't a nuclear weapon, it was a high-speed, 10,000 ton chunk of space rock carrying out a surprise attack on Russia.
"For the first time since the establishment of the IMS infrasound network, multiple arrivals involving waves that traveled twice round the globe have been clearly identified," writes Alexis Le Pichon, scientist of the Atomic Energy Commission, France, and his team in a paper that has been accepted for publication in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.