Scientists prove massive asteroid with the power of 10 billion atomic bombs ended dinosaurs' reign

An artist's interpretation of the asteroid.
An artist's interpretation of the asteroid. Photo credit: NASA/Don Davis

An asteroid with the power equivalent to 10 billion atomic bombs is what scientists confirmed wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

The asteroid slammed into the planet - near Mexico - setting wildfires, triggering tsunamis and causing global cooling.

Studying a giant crater where the asteroid first hit in Mexico's east, led by The University of Texas, notes that hard evidence was found to prove such an event occurred, finding pieces of charcoal and rock which was able to give scientists a timeline as to how the events took place.

Just one day after the asteroid hit Earth, about 130 metres worth of material was deposited, scientists say.

Although it wasn't the asteroid alone that caused mass extinction - more so global climate change caused by the asteroid.

Sean Gulick, a research professor at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics' Jackson School of Geosciences, said the study expanded a record of events they were able to recover from where the asteroid first hit.

"We fried them [the dinosaurs] and then we froze them," said Gulick, who led the study. "Not all the dinosaurs died that day, but many dinosaurs did."

The research was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.