Space Rock Families (06:22)
Collisional families are groups of objects that are similar in size, shape, and tilt as they orbit the sun. A massive object in the Kuiper Belt collides and breaks into fragmented pieces that become members of the same collisional family.
Comets: Icy Rocks with Tails (04:38)
Objects in the Kuiper Belt are occasionally kicked out of orbit, sent to drift into the inner solar system. These icy rocks become comets with tails of ice and dust. Pieces of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter, leaving impact scars.
Late Heavy Bombardment Period (02:12)
From the beginning, collisions have been a fact of life in the universe. Earth's moon reveals the volatility of the Late Heavy Bombardment period in Earth's history.
Refuge for Space Rocks (02:24)
In the outer solar system the Kuiper belt is the final resting place for rocks left over from the Late Heavy Bombardment period. In the inner solar system, they collectively orbit in the asteroid belt.
Impact Event and Extinction of Dinosaurs (03:45)
Scientists are confident that a large fragment from a cosmic collision struck Earth 65 million years ago, leading to the extinction of dinosaurs. The dust cloud would have cut off the sun for years. Geological evidence proves the impact theory.
Meteor Crater (03:33)
Nearly 50,000 years ago, a 150-foot asteroid struck Earth, leaving a giant, bowl-shaped crater. Fragments contain large amounts of iridium, usually rare in Earth rocks. The Chicxulub impact crater is buried beneath 3000 feet of limestone.
Cataclysmic Collision with Earth (04:49)
A new study claims an ancient collision between two mega-asteroids spawned the killer rock that slammed into Earth and marked the beginning of the end for the dinosaurs. Scientists believe the rock came from the Baptistina asteroid family.
Earth's Biggest Extinction Event (03:39)
During the Permian-Triassic extinction or "the Great Dying," Earth was composed of Pangaea, a super-continent, and Panthalassa, the ocean. A seven-mile-wide rock collided with Earth and wiped out most life forms 250 million years ago.
Scientific Study of Permian-Triassic Extinction (02:56)
A team of scientists uncovers evidence that suggests an asteroid caused the Permian-Triassic extinction. They have uncovered a possible impact crater and claim to have samples of asteroid material from the collision with Earth.
Volcanism and Extinction (02:19)
Earth was undergoing severe volcanism 250 million years ago that was choking the atmosphere. Volcanism alone might not explain the mass extinction; it was probably helped along by an asteroid collision.
Cosmic Upheaval (03:07)
When galaxies get too close to one another, galactic crashes occur. NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope observes 4 super-massive galaxies colliding. The Milky Way will eventually merge with Andromeda galaxy.
Star Collisions (02:56)
Stellar collisions are rare because such enormous spaces exist between stars. When two stars collide, the new star is called a "blue straggler." Cosmic collisions will continue to occur as long as the universe exists.
Credits: Cosmic Collisions (00:23)
Credits: Cosmic Collisions
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