110-Year Anniversary: Tunguska Impact Event Remains A Mystery After A Century

110-Year Anniversary: Tunguska Impact Event Remains A Mystery After A Century

The felled trees at Tunguska served as radial markers that showed the point of the impact at Tunguska. The trees that remained standing were de-branched and de-barked.

The Tunguska event remains a mystery for members of the public, as well as for scientists even on its 110th anniversary.

There is still no specific answer as to what really happened 110 years ago, but the consensus is that a space rock entered the Earth’s atmosphere and caused the mysterious event.

Asteroid Day Commemorates The Tunguska Event

On June 30, 1908, the Tunguska event caught the world by surprise when a mysterious "fireball" ruined 800 square miles or about 2,000 square kilometers of forest near the Podkamennaya Tunguska river in Russia. Over a hundred years on, almost 200 countries celebrate Asteroid Day every June 30 of the year since 2015.

Today, sightings of strange lights in the sky and other mysterious sky events excite and amaze many members of the public, while scientists are always on the lookout for asteroids and meteorites near the Earth.

‘The Sky Was Split In Two’

Nevertheless, what did really happen on June 30, 1908, which makes the Tunguska event so mysterious?

It was just a little over 7 in the morning in Siberia when a bright "fireball" entered the Earth’s atmosphere and destroyed hundreds of square miles of forest. The explosion was so severe that a man, who was 40 miles away from ground zero, was hurled from his seat and his shirt reportedly felt as if it was on fire.

However, as massive as the event was, it actually took 19 years before the site was even scientifically explored because of the harsh conditions in the Siberian outback.

Once there, the research team led by Leonid Kulik of the St. Petersburg museum found that the trees in the areas had been felled, with their roots facing the center of the impact. The ones that remained standing had their branches and barks stripped away. There was, however, no crater at the main site of the supposed impact.

In the beginning, the residents did not speak of the event as they believed that god Ogdy had visited and cursed the area. Some eventually gave their accounts of the event, however.

One of those who did was the man who was hurled from his chair. According to him, the sky above the forest was suddenly split into two and looked as if it was covered with fire. He also reported of a mighty crash and noise that sounded like guns firing.

What Do Scientists Think It Was?

Naturally, there are many theories surrounding what really happened, from alien encounters to mini black holes. Even if there is no certainty regarding what really happened 110 years ago, the common belief among scientists is that a space rock came very close to the surface of the Earth. It exploded but did not make a direct impact, which is why there was no crater.

Some also believe that the reason why there is no crater is that it was an icy comet that disintegrated when it entered into the atmosphere.

That said, there are still some discrepancies in the little evidence regarding the event. For instance, several residents reported experiencing the event for over 10 minutes, which would make an extraterrestrial impact or explosion quite unlikely.

By 1999, a few of the de-barked and de-branched trees remain, and there is little evidence left of the mysterious event from 110 years ago.