A very bright meteor streaked across the sky over the city of Vila Velha, Espírito Santo, at dawn yesterday (10). The rare phenomenon lasted almost ten seconds – considered slow – and was recorded by at least two surveillance cameras.
Because it is so large, luminous, explosive, and long-lasting, it has been classified as a “bolide” by astronomers.
See the video below:
The image was captured at 5 am by the station owned by Danilo Zan, a member of Exoss, a Brazilian collaborative meteor study project.
“It was a very bright bolide, bigger and longer than normal. Very interesting and rare, as it managed to survive a long time in the atmosphere”, says Marcelo De Cicco, astronomer-coordinator of Exoss. “Everything suggests that it may be of asteroidal origin.”
Its brightness reached a magnitude between -5 and -6 (the more negative the number, the brighter; the planet Venus shines at -4, for example). It was also registered by the Gaturamo Astronomical Observatory (GOA), of the Federal University of Espírito Santo (Ufes).
See the images:
The trajectory of the space rock was from south to east, at a height of approximately 80 kilometers. In the videos, it is possible to follow its fragmentation, as it burns due to friction with the air.
“The most beautiful detail is that the entire ablation process in the atmosphere is well visible. And there is the possibility that it generated meteorites,” adds De Cicco.
Meteor, fireball or bolide?
When a small space rock (meteoroid) hits the Earth’s atmosphere, the very high speed causes the heating and ionization of the gases around it, generating the luminous phenomenon that we call a meteor – or shooting star. If it is brighter than the planet Venus, we can call it a fireball.
A fireball that ends explosively, leaving an even larger flash, starting at magnitude -4, is also classified as a bolide.
Most of the time, the rock is completely vaporized during its passage through the atmosphere, due to the phenomenon called ablation. Depending on certain conditions — such as size, composition and angle of entry — parts of the meteoroid can survive the process, leaving fragments on the ground, which are then called meteorites.