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A new study from Western University posits proof to the possibility that an oncoming swarm of meteors—likened to the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot by some extraterrestrial experts—may indeed pose an existential risk for Earth and its inhabitants. (That's us.)

When considering catalysts for catastrophic collision, there are two main sources Near Earth Objects (NEOs) like asteroids and meteoroids and interlopers from the outer solar system, which are typically comets. Over the past few decades, a great deal of effort has been expended in cataloging more than 90 percent of the potentially hazardous NEOs, and work is ongoing to detect, catalog and track greater numbers and smaller sizes of these objects. Interlopers from the outer solar system are much harder to chart but again, much work is underway.

The Taurid swarm is a third potential source of risk that changes the probabilities of possible catastrophic impacts. The Tunguska (Russia) explosion of 1908 is considered a one-in-1000-year event, assuming a random distribution of events over time. But the Taurid swarm, a dense cluster within the Taurid meteoroid stream, and through which the Earth periodically passes, changes the odds significantly and gives a possible reason for the unlikely occurrence that a once per 1000-year event occurred just over a century ago. If the hypothesized might of the Taurid swarm is successfully proven, this also heightens the possibility of a cluster of large impacts over a short period of time.

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Category: Science