Mysterious blue fireball streaks over Western Australia, confusing astronomers

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A streak of blue light that crossed the sky on Monday surprised the night owls of Western Australia and confused the astronomical community.The blue fireball was seen at 1 a.m. local time on June 15, according to ABC News Pilbara. “It was truly a spectacular sighting,” Glen Nagle, education and outreach officer at the CSIRO-NASA tracking station in Canberra, told news agency. Sightings have been reported in the remote Pilbara region as well as in the country’s Northern Territory and South Australia, said Nagle.

Many observers have filmed the phenomenon on video. The fireball regularly crosses the sky. At first, it appears orange or yellow, with a short tail flowing behind. After a few seconds, most of the fireball lights up blue.

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According to ABC News, scientists are unsure which object burned into the atmosphere to create a brilliant light show. Some amateur astronomers have speculated that the object may be human-made debris, possibly from a recent rocket launch. But that seems unlikely, Renae Sayers, a research ambassador at the Space Science and Technology Center at Curtin University, told news agency.

When space trash enters the atmosphere, “what we tend to see is a bit like cracklings and sparks,” said Sayers. “This is due to the fact that there are things burning – so you have solar panels everywhere, you have pieces of metal moving around. ”

The fireball above Pilbara, on the other hand, glided gently across the sky. This makes it more likely to be a natural space object. The blue color, according to Nagle, indicates a high the iron content. A lot meteorites – space rocks that survive their fiery journey into the earth’s atmosphere – are rich in iron. Some may be the nucleus of ancient asteroids, according to the Natural History Museum the UK.

Sayers said the fireball looked like another spectacular meteor seen in Australia in 2017. This 2017 fireball whistled through the sky, but instead of touching the ground or burning in the atmosphere, it bounced in space. The June 15 fireball may have been another grazing encounter, she told ABC News.

Meteors that are bright enough to be classified as fireballs are rare, but encounters with space rocks are common. According to NASA, approximately 48.5 tonnes (44,000 kilograms) of meteors fall on Earth everyday. Most space rocks decay completely or are the size of a pebble as they pass through the Earth’s atmosphere. Sometimes we make a really spectacular entry: in February 2013, a meteor that would become known as the Chelyabinsk meteor entered the atmosphere over Russia and exploded in the largest space explosion since the 1908 explosion in Tunguska. The explosion blew up windows in buildings in six different cities.

Originally posted on Live Science.



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