Famous astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and cosmochemist Natalie Starkey warned that although asteroids may have brought life on Earth, they could also spell the end for the entire planet following a major impact event.

According to numerous scientific studies, asteroids and comets that crashed on Earth billions of years ago greatly contributed to the development of life on the planet. However, for Tyson and Starkey, these space rocks could also cause the end of humanity.

“It is an intriguing and under-appreciated fact that asteroids and comets may have been the bringers of life, if not the ingredients of life, but perhaps even life itself,” Tyson said during a previous “Cosmic Queries” episode of his StarTalk podcast.

“And yet, they can also serve as harbingers of doom for the very life that they brought to the planet,” he added.

Starkey agreed with Tyson and said that a direct collision with a large asteroid could wipe out life on Earth.

“We may have only got here because of comets and asteroids and actually, in the future, we may die off because of comets and asteroids,” she said. “They could collide with us and, you know, devastate all of humanity.”

According to the scientists, if an asteroid is big enough, it can cause long-term devastating effects on Earth after an impact. Aside from the explosion that it will cause, a massive asteroid can also trigger global effects that can alter Earth’s environmental and atmospheric conditions.

This happened around 65 million years ago when an asteroid that was about 50 miles long crashed in a region that is now known as the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

The explosion from the impact, which created a 93-mile long crater, produced an energy equivalent to over 900 billion atomic bombs. It also caused a mega tsunami that was over 330 feet tall.

Aside from these, the impact altered Earth’s environmental conditions and triggered a planet-wide nuclear winter. The massive explosion and the long-term environmental effect led to an extinction-level event. According to reports, the devastating event wiped out about 75% of all plant and animal life on Earth.

NASA asteroid impact
An illustration shows an asteroid impacting Earth in circumstances similar to the asteroid strike that killed the dinosaurs and plunged the world into darkness. NASA/NCAR