- An extremely bright meteor. Synonym: fireball
- Any extraterrestrial body that collides with Earth.
Saw a fascinating paper today over at Nature about Tall el-Hammam, a Middle Bronze Age city in the Jordan Valley near the Dead Sea, which was apparently destroyed by a massive, cosmic airburst. The analysis in the paper is pretty convincing, and the researchers systematically discount most explanations outside of the airburst theory. There is evidence that suggests a similar impact occurred at Tell Abu Hureyra almost 13,000 years ago.
We’ve had some similar, less-impactful (hah) events in modern times as well, such as the 2013 Chelyabinsk event, and the 1908 Tunguska event. While searching for comprable historical events, some people pointed to the Wanggongchang Explosion - which precipitated the collapse of the Ming Dynasty - as a possible bolide-related situation.