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A major impact event releases the energy of several million nuclear weapons detonating simultaneously, when an asteroid of only a few kilometers in diameter collides with a larger body such as the Earth (image: artist's impression).

An impact event is a collision between celestial objects causing measurable effects. Impact events have physical consequences and have been found to regularly occur in planetary systems, though the most frequent involve asteroids, comets or meteoroids and have minimal impact. When large objects impact terrestrial planets like the Earth, there can be significant physical and biospheric consequences, though atmospheres mitigate many surface impacts through atmospheric entry. Impact craters and structures are dominant landforms on many of the Solar System 's solid objects and present the strongest empirical evidence for their frequency and scale.

Impact events appear to have played a significant role in the evolution of the Solar System since its formation. Major impact events have significantly shaped Earth's history, have been implicated in the formation of the Earth–Moon system, the evolutionary history of life, the origin of water on Earth and several mass extinctions. Notable impact events include the Chicxulub impact, 66 million years ago, believed to be the cause of the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event.

Throughout recorded history, hundreds of Earth impacts (and exploding bolides) have been reported, with some occurrences causing deaths, injuries, property damage, or other significant localised consequences.<ref>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=citation }}</ref> One of the best-known recorded impacts in modern times was the Tunguska event, which occurred in Siberia, Russia, in 1908. The 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor event is the only known such event to result in a large number of injuries, and the Chelyabinsk meteor is the largest recorded object to have encountered the Earth since the Tunguska event.

The most notable non-terrestrial event is the Comet Shoemaker–Levy 9 impact, which provided the first direct observation of an extraterrestrial collision of Solar System objects, when the comet broke apart and collided with Jupiter in July 1994. Most of the observed extrasolar impacts are the slow collision of galaxies; however, in 2014, one of the first massive terrestrial impacts observed was detected around the star NGC 2547 ID8 by NASA's Spitzer space telescope and confirmed by ground observations.<ref name="space.com">Smash! Aftermath of Colossal Impact Spotted Around Sunlike Star</ref> Impact events have been a plot and background element in science fiction.


Impact event sections
Intro   Impacts and the Earth   Elsewhere in the Solar System  Extrasolar impacts  Popular culture  See also  References  Further reading  External links  

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