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Chelyabinsk, Russian Meteorite, Fragment Of Larger Family?

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CHELYABINSK
AP

Don't panic.

There's only a suggestion the meteorite that may part of a pack of space rocks is heading our way.

A highly speculative report from the space-scribes at io9 explores the possibility that the 18-meter wide, 11,000-tonne space rock that exploded in a 460-kiloton kind of way may be part of a bigger body.

That body may reportedly have been chipped away, or fragmented outright. And those chunks, bear with us, could be following a similar trajectory to the one that injured more than 1,100 people in what's now being billed as The Meteorite Capital of Russia.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, scientists combing the site of the blast -- a city of more than a million people east of the Ural mountains -- have been able to peg the original orbit of the meteor, also called a bollide.

In a study published last month, researchers suggest the blast, very sensibly called a superbolide, "was the result of the decay of a larger asteroid."

David Nesvorny , a researcher from Colorado's Southwest Research Institute, isn't so sure the sky would be falling anytime soon. Instead, he suggests in the online journal Nature, that the errant space rock may have had it's trajectory shaped by various cosmic fender-benders.

"It is not obvious to me why [the Chelyabinsk meteor] cannot be a fragment that was produced by a collision in the main asteroid belt, and evolved to its impact orbit by a few planetary encounters," he told the journal Nature.

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