The European Space Agency reported that a small asteroid recently hit Earth. Since it was only a small space rock, the object burned up in the atmosphere and exploded in the sky, creating a bright fireball.
The incident caused by the asteroid, which became a meteor after entering Earth's atmosphere, was photographed by resident Chris Small of England. ESA's new impact warning system Near-Real-Time Monitor (NEMO) also detected the incident.
Documenting The Fireball Incident
According to the ESA, the incident took place on January 21. It was photographed by Small near the seaside town of Bude in northeast Cornwall. Based on the image captured by the photographer, the meteor created a long bright streak in the sky as it burned up in the Earth's atmosphere. Small noted that the fireball was so bright that it illuminated the sky and its surrounding regions.
"I see a lot of meteors due to spending so long shooting the night sky, but I've never seen anything quite like that before," Small said in a statement released by the ESA. "It was incredible and lit up the entire coast almost as bright as daytime for a few seconds. There were beautiful green and blue colours."
Characteristics Of The Meteor
The ESA explained that the spectacular fireball event was caused by a meteor which is as bright as Venus. Like other small asteroids that enter Earth's atmosphere, the meteor burned up due to the intense friction.
While some cosmic objects disintegrate in the process, others result in bright and powerful explosions in the sky. The incident was detected by NEMO shortly after it happened. This system, which is part of the agency's Planetary Defense Office, tracks fireball events on Earth using data collected from social media activities. Based on the brightness of the fireball, the agency noted that the meteor may have been about less than a meter wide.
"From the brightness of this fireball, around the time of a full moon, experts have deduced that the original object could have ranged from tens of centimetres to a meter in size, depending on its entry speed, composition and other characteristics," the ESA explained.