On June 30, 1908, an object the size of an apartment building came hurtling out of the sky and exploded in the atmosphere above Siberia. The Tunguska event, named for a river, flattened trees for 800 square miles. It occurred in one of the least-populated places in Asia, and no one was killed or injured. But the Tunguska airburst stands as the most powerful impact event in recorded human history, and it remains enigmatic, as scientists don’t know the origin of the object or whether it was an asteroid or a comet.
One hypothesis: It was a Beta Taurid.
The Taurids are meteor showers that occur twice a year, in late June and late October or early November. The June meteors are the Betas. They strike during the day, when sunlight washes out the “shooting stars” that are visible during the nighttime meteor shower later in the year.
A new calculation by Mark Boslough, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, shows that the tree-fall pattern in Siberia is consistent with an asteroid coming from the same area in the sky as the Taurid meteor swarm. Boslough and physicist Peter Brown of Western University in London, Ontario, gave a presentation at the American Geophysical Union fall meeting in Washington this month in which they called for a special observation campaign this June to search for Tunguska-class or larger objects embedded in the Taurids.