Meteor shower: When dust or particles from asteroids or comets enter Earth’s atmosphere at a high rate, meteor showers occur.
When meteors collide with air particles, friction is created, which causes the meteors to heat up. Most meteors are vaporized by the heat, resulting in shooting stars.
While there are sporadic particles of debris striking Earth from all directions, there are also regularly scheduled “meteor showers” during which astronomers can better anticipate how many meteors will hit the Earth and from which direction.
The main distinction is that meteor showers occur when the Earth collides with a comet’s or asteroid’s track of particles. Meteor showers vary in intensity depending on where the trail of particles falls in a given year.
Astronomers occasionally discover new meteor showers, such as the Camelopardalids in 2014. The shower was predicted to produce up to 200 meteors per hour, however, it turned out to be a quiet shower for amateur astronomers.
After Comet 209P/debris LINEAR’s truck collided with Earth, the shower became active. (The debris path of comets can alter due to Jupiter’s influence or other factors.)
At a Height of 60 Miles (96.5 Kilometres); Most Meteors Become Visible
At a height of 60 miles (96.5 kilometres), most meteors become visible. Some huge meteors splatter, resulting in a brighter light known as a fireball, which can be seen and heard up to 30 miles (48 kilometres) distant during the day.
- Meteors can travel at speeds of up to 30,000 miles per hour (48,280 kilometres per hour) and reach temperatures of up to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,648 degrees Celsius).
- Most meteors are so small that they disintegrate in the air, some as little as a grain of sand. Meteorites are larger ones that reach the Earth’s surface and are extremely rare.
- The composition, speed, and angle of entry all influence whether or not an object breaks apart.
- A quicker meteor travelling at an oblique angle (slanting rather than straight on) is subjected to more stress.
Iron meteors are more resistant to stress than stone meteors. Even an iron meteor will normally disintegrate when the atmosphere becomes heavier, roughly 5 to 7 miles (8 to 11 kilometres) above the ground.
When Meteorites Impact the Earth Their Speed Is Nearly Halved
When meteorites impact the earth, their speed is nearly halved, and they create craters 12 to 20 times their original size.
- Craters form on Earth in the same way as they do on the moon or any other rocky planet. Bowl-shaped craters are formed by smaller objects.
- Larger impacts generate a central peak, while slippage along the rim creates terraces. Multiple rebounds generate several inner peaks in the greatest impacts, which form basins.
- Large meteors can erupt above the ground, inflicting broad destruction from the blast and subsequent fire.
- This occurred over Siberia in 1908 and is known as the Tunguska incident. Witnesses observed a ball of fire race through the sky on June 30, 1908, from hundreds of miles away, implying that the meteor entered the atmosphere at an oblique angle.
- It burst, bringing scorching gusts and loud noises into the surrounding villages and shaking the earth enough to break windows.
- For several days, little particles thrown into the atmosphere lighted up the night sky. No meteorite was ever discovered, and many scientists believed the destruction was caused by a comet for many years.
The current consensus is that a meteor bursts close above the surface.
A 17-meter Rock Erupted 12 to 15 Miles Above the Earth’s Surface
Over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in a similar incident on Feb. On March 15, 2013, a tornado ripped across the city, destroying buildings and injuring over 1,000 people.
According to Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario in Canada,
“The energy of the subsequent explosion topped 470 kilotons of TNT,” according to the report, which is 30 to 40 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, during WWII.
Although the Russian occurrence highlighted the potential risk that space rocks pose to Earth, most meteors do not do quite as much harm.
Still, NASA and other organisations maintain a close eye on all asteroids visible from Earth and are working hard to find as many as possible, particularly those that are larger and pose a greater (theoretical) threat to Earth.
The orbits of asteroids are mapped and studied to see if they may cross Earth in the future. While no potentially dangerous objects have been discovered, NASA continues to hunt and publishes the results on the Small-Body Database Browser.
Objects in the night sky conjured up superstition and were associated with gods and religion in ancient times. Misconceptions about meteors, on the other hand, remained longer than they did about most other celestial objects.
Meteorites (the Ones That Make It to Earth) Were Once Supposed to Have Been Sent Down by Angels as Presents
Others believed the gods were expressing their displeasure. Many people believed they fell from thunderstorms as late as the 17th century (they were nicknamed “thunderstones”).
Many scientists were unconvinced that stones could fall from the sky or the clouds, and they often didn’t trust the testimonies of those who claimed to have witnessed such events.
In 1807, a meteorite shower fell from the sky after a fireball detonated above Connecticut.
By that time, the first asteroids had been identified, and a new notion suggested that meteorites were fragments of asteroids or other planets. (This is still a valid theory.)
In 1948, the United States’ largest meteorite was discovered in a wheat field in southern Nebraska. Witnesses reported seeing a massive fireball in the afternoon that was brighter than the sun.
The meteorite was discovered 10 feet (3 metres) below ground level. It weighed in at 2,360 pounds (1,070 kilograms).
Meteor Crater is the incorrect name for the most famous meteorite crater in the United States. It’s located in Arizona and is enormous. The hole is 600 feet (180 metres) deep and about a mile broad, with the lip rising 150 feet (45 metres) above the surrounding plain.
It was the first crater shown to have been formed by a meteorite impact between 20,000 and 50,000 years ago.
Meteor Showers on an Annual Basis
- Meteors are frequently seen falling from the sky on their own, one after the other. However, there are periods of the year when the sky is lit up by dozens, if not hundreds, of meteors each hour.
- Coming from a single point in the sky, radiating in all directions, and dropping one by one to Earth.
- Every year, astronomers and amateur observers look forward to several meteor showers.
- Meteor showers are called for the constellations that appear to be the source of the shower.
- The Orionid meteors, for example, appear to come from the great Orion constellation, whereas the Perseid meteors appear to come from the Perseus constellation.
- The Leonid meteor shower is the brightest and most impressive, capable of producing a meteor storm that can shower the sky with hundreds of meteors per minute at its height.
- Astronomers invented the phrase “meteor shower” after witnessing one of the Leonids’ most spectacular displays in 1833.
- The Leonids appear every November, but their most spectacular display occurs every 33 years or so, with the most recent one lighting Earth’s sky in 2002; it is not predicted to happen again until 2028.
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