In a recent study published in the ‘Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets’, researchers discovered that the asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs was not the biggest. Instead, our planet was once hit by another rock at least two times bigger than the one that wiped off the dinosaur population.
According to the researchers, the Vredefort impactor, estimated to be around 2 billion years old, hit the Earth during the Precambrian period when the planet was very different from what we see today. The atmosphere was still developing, and the first multicellular life forms began evolving. This would have significantly impacted the early Earth, and the aftermath of the collision may have even helped to shape the planet’s future.
One potential effect of the impact is that it may have triggered the release of gases from the Earth’s interior. The impact would have generated enormous amounts of heat, potentially melting rock and releasing gases that were trapped inside. This could have profoundly affected the atmosphere's composition and even played a role in developing the ozone layer, which protects the Earth from harmful solar radiation.
Another effect of the impact could have been to create conditions that were conducive to the development of life. The impact would have created enormous amounts of heat and pressure, potentially creating environments where simple organic compounds could have formed. This could have been a critical step in the evolution of life on Earth.
Overall, the Vredefort impactor is a fascinating object of study, offering valuable insights into the history of our planet and its evolution over time. As researchers continue to study the impact and its effects, we may better understand the early Earth and the processes that shaped it into the world we know today.