June 8, 2023

An enormous fireball was noticed exploding in a inexperienced flash of sunshine over an airport in Australia in a viral video.

The clip was shared on the Fb web page of Cairns Airport in Queensland on Might 21. It exhibits some extent of brilliant mild falling towards Earth at excessive speeds, earlier than flashing inexperienced after which exploding in an orange fireball because it approached the bottom.

Inventory picture of a fireball meteor falling to Earth. A brilliant inexperienced fireball exploded over Cairns Airport in Australia this week.

“We witnessed some fairly unbelievable exercise throughout our skies final night time!” Cairns Airport captioned the video, which has amassed over 225,000 views. “Who else managed to identify the meteor?”

Others additionally captured the fireball from different angles throughout Queensland, together with in a video shared by 9News, taken by a person named Jim Robertson. “It is one thing you do not count on driving dwelling,” he informed the native media outlet.

“This factor was so large, and the sunshine was simply so brilliant. There was a aircraft coming in on the identical time, so these pilots would have had a fantastic view,” Robertson stated. “It was a fluke expertise that we have been fortunate sufficient to get on the dashcam.”

This fireball was doubtless attributable to a meteor falling to Earth over this space of northeastern Australia. As meteors—chunks of rock and ice from area—fall into the Earth’s ambiance, they warmth as much as immense temperatures attributable to friction with the atmospheric fuel.

“Because it comes into Earth’s ambiance at excessive pace (above 12 kilometers [7.5 miles] per second), it pushes the air in entrance of it, inflicting that air to grow to be superheated (type of like a shockwave), which in flip causes the floor of the rock to ‘ablate’. Mainly, the very floor layer will get superheated, and vaporized,” Jonti Horner, an astrophysics professor on the College of Southern Queensland, Australia, beforehand informed Newsweek. “Because the factor continues to push via the ambiance, it will get whittled away from the skin in by this ablation course of—till friction with the ambiance slows it to subsonic speeds.”

Fireballs are attributable to larger-than-average meteors, resulting in a very brilliant flash of sunshine. These meteors are additionally known as bolides. Normally, solely round 5 p.c of the unique meteoroid makes it to the Earth’s floor. The remainder is vaporized because it falls, inflicting these brilliant fireballs. Meteors bigger than a softball may cause fireballs briefly brighter than a full moon.

Round 500 meteors fall to Earth yearly, however only some are recovered, in keeping with the Planetary Science Institute. It is because they fall into the ocean or are inaccessible locations, or as a result of they utterly dissipate upon reentry. Sometimes, some meteorites survive the descent. Meteors are reclassified as meteorites after they hit the bottom.

Annemarie E. Pickersgill is a meteorite-impact scientist on the College of Glasgow in Scotland. She informed Newsweek in November: “When the unique [rock] could be very huge, greater than 50 to 100 meters (164 to 328 ft), it’s more likely to maintain most of its pace and survive passage via the ambiance.”

Ten years in the past, in February 2013, an enormous fireball was seen over Chelyabinsk in Russia as a meteor crashed to Earth. It was discovered to have been round 60 ft throughout.

“The shock wave from Chelyabinsk fortunately did not kill anybody, however injured many due to damaged home windows as a result of shock wave,” Hadrien Devillepoix beforehand informed Newsweek. He’s a analysis affiliate on the Faculty of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Curtin College in Perth, Australia.

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