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Largest surviving fragment of Chelyabinsk meteor to go on display in Vienna

The spectacular meteorite which blew up over the earth after entering the atmosphere at an incredible 60 times the speed of sound before exploding in a ball of light brighter than the sun is to be put on display at Vienna's National History Museum this month.

Only small parts of the meteorite that exploded 20 miles above the ground in Chelyabinsk, in Russia were left and the largest - a 387g chunk - has been snapped up by the Austrian museum in an international bidding war. It will now go on display in Vienna from 15th February this year.

The meteorite caused extensive damage and injured around 1,500 people when it exploded with the force of 500 kilotons of TNT, which was 20–30 times more energy than was released from the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima.

Treasure hunters immediately descended on the region to look for fragments and the Vienna National History Museum was able to acquire the chunk now going on display to add to its meteorite collection.

The object was undetected before its atmospheric entry and its explosion created panic among local residents. About 1,500 people were injured seriously enough to seek medical treatment.

All of the injuries were due to indirect effects rather than the meteor itself, mainly from broken glass from windows that were blown in when the shock wave arrived, minutes after the explosive flash.

In total, some 7,200 buildings in six cities across the region were damaged by the explosion's shock wave.

With an estimated initial mass of about 12,000 to 13,000 metric tonnes and about 20 metres in size, it is the largest known natural object to have entered Earth's atmosphere since the 1908 Tunguska event that destroyed a wide, remote, forested area of Siberia.

The Chelyabinsk meteor is also the only meteor confirmed to have resulted in a large number of injuries.

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