Social media flooded with videos of dramatic fireball over Spain and Portugal – IGN

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Planetary Defense Office is investigating the appearance of a massive fireball that lit up the skies over Spain and Portugal late last week. The fiery body was seen streaking through the night sky at a speed of about 45 kilometers per second on May 18 at 22:46 UTC before disappearing from view in a bright flash of light 60 km above the Atlantic Ocean.

The fireball was initially thought to mark the destruction of a small meteor when it came into contact with Earth’s atmosphere. However, ESA later announced that the intruder was in fact likely a fragment of a larger ice comet, which had broken off from the main body and wandered the solar system indefinitely before ending up on a fateful collision course with our Blue Comet. Marble.

Images of its explosive destruction were posted on social media by observers in Spain and Portugal, along with a recording from ESA’s fireball camera in Cáceres, Spain.

During atmospheric entry, the comet fragment’s intense velocity would have compressed the atmospheric gases in its path – a process that would in turn have slowed the object and warmed it at the same time. The descent would have continued until the uneven pressure at the front and back of the fragment overwhelmed its pulling force, causing the ancient traveler to disintegrate in a cataclysmic fireball.

ESA’s Planetary Defense Office is currently analyzing data on the fragment to determine its size and trajectory, in an attempt to determine whether any part of the cosmic rover could have survived crashing into the Atlantic Ocean. Researchers are also trying to determine whether the object – which was not actively tracked before it entered Earth’s atmosphere – can be found in telescopic data prior to the event.

Sunday’s unexpected event is the latest in a series of spectacular cosmic events to grace Earth’s skies in 2024, beginning April 8 with a dramatic total solar eclipse that swept across part of North America, bathing the country in moon shadow. That display of orbital mechanics was followed earlier this month by a period of intense solar activity, which produced a series of spectacular auroras on Earth, lighting up the night sky over the northern United States.

Astronomers have also predicted that the distant white dwarf star T Coronae Borealis will explode in a powerful nova explosion later this year, making it visible from Earth for the first time since 1946. For more science news, why not follow the discovery? of an ancient waterway that connected 31 ancient Egyptian pyramids, or read about how a piece of the International Space Station crashed through the roof of a Florida family’s home earlier this year.

Image credit: ESA/PDO/AMS82 – AllSky7 Fireball Network
Anthony is a freelance contributor to science and video game news for IGN. He has more than eight years of experience covering groundbreaking developments in multiple scientific fields and has absolutely no time for your nonsense. Follow him on Twitter @BeardConGamer

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