Editor's Summary

6 September 2007

Baptistina of fire


Several lines of evidence suggest that the long-term average impact flux from kilometre-sized bodies striking the Moon and Earth's atmosphere has increased by a factor of two or more during the past 100 million years. Bottke et al. use numerical simulations to show that this surge was probably triggered by the catastrophic disruption of the parent body of the asteroid Baptistina, which broke up around 160 million years ago in the inner main asteroid belt. Fragments evolved to orbits where they could strike the terrestrial planets. This asteroid shower is the most likely source of the Chixulub impactor that produced the Cretaceous–Tertiary mass extinction event 65 million years ago.

News and ViewsSolar System: Lethal billiards

A huge collision in the asteroid belt 160 million years ago sent fragments bagatelling around the inner Solar System. One piece might have caused the mass extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago.

Philippe Claeys & Steven Goderis

doi:10.1038/449030a

ArticleAn asteroid breakup 160 Myr ago as the probable source of the K/T impactor

William F. Bottke, David Vokrouhlický & David Nesvorný

doi:10.1038/nature06070