Space dust hits the Earth every day in the form of meteorites. As much as 300 tonnes of the stuff falls to the Earth each day. Of course, most of it is dust or small rocks, and goes unnoticed by the majority of people. But every so often, a larger rock plummets to Earth, and if it’s big enough, it will make it’s presence known. One such meteor flew through the atmosphere less than 48 hours ago in the Northeast USA.
The bright flashes occur when a space rock, called a meteoroid, hits the atmosphere of the Earth, which rapidly slows it down from a crazy 40 kilometers per second. The friction with the atmosphere produces a huge amount of energy which can be seen as a bright flash of light. Several other bright flashes occur as the meteor burns up from the extreme release of energy. Eventually it slows down enough to no longer produce light, disappearing from view before it reaches the ground.
With the accessibility of cameras for consumer use, it’s a lot easier to capture footage like this from multiple sources, which is very useful to astronomers who are looking to retrieve the meteorites. And you can bet there are teams of researchers out looking for the remains of this space rock, whether it’s one piece or multiples. Either way, the rock will be surprisingly small, as it doesn’t take much to produce a bright flash when it’s moving that quickly.
The hunt is on!