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Question about high speed objects

  1. Jan 19, 2013 #1
    If an object is moving at a high velocity (i.e. an asteroid or comet) and it impacts something such as a planet is the resulting force of the impact explosive or kinetic?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 19, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    It's complicated. The asteroid initially has a very large amount of kinetic energy. When it hits an object that energy must be transferred or converted to something else in order for the asteroid to stop. When the asteroid impacts something, the kinetic energy is converted to thermal and kinetic energy of the resulting collision products. That's why the impact vaporizes and melts a significant amount of material and why it shoots it out and up into the air. The overall effect is similar to a large explosion. In fact, it pretty much is the definition of an explosion. Per wiki:

    The impact would generate quite an explosion.
  4. Jan 20, 2013 #3
    Me and a friend were arguing about which on it is. Guess we are both right.
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