Local astronomer weighs in on Russian meteor explosion

(WXYZ) - A local astronomer, Eric Bell, is weighing in on the Russian meteor explosion.

Bell teaches astronomy at the University of Michigan.

"It's like going from Detroit to Ann Arbor in two or three seconds. That's how fast it was going. It was going fast," he says.

Bell says meteors explode all the time, but on a much smaller scale.

"Something of this size it happens every year to every decade or so, but this is the first time it's happening over a reasonably populated area. That's the part that makes this really remarkable. Usually it happens in middle of nowhere," he says.

Shattering glass injured hundreds of people. Bell says it was the shock wave that did that kind of damage, not the actual explosion.

As for how something like this happens, Bell says when there's a collision between two objects there is debris that is sent out. That debris has its own path around the sun and some of those paths intersect with ours.

"We don't know how long how this particular body been going around the sun, but it was probably a long time and then it just finally manages to hit the earth. It's remarkable," says Bell.

He says current technology wouldn't have been able to track this and give people warning.

He says it's a reminder of how relevant it is to continue improving tracking technology.

"There are lot of things out there and this kind of thing, as much damage as it did, if it were a factor of 10 larger-- there wouldn't be a city left," says Bell.

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