December 1, 2020

The rock of a comet generates a ball of fire that is seen throughout Spain


An image of the fireball released by Project SMART.

An image of the fireball released by Project SMART.
SMART project

The impact of a rock from a comet, which has penetrated the atmosphere at 65,000 kilometers per hour, has generated a bright ball of fire that has been seen from all over Spain.

The phenomenon, which occurred at 7:53 p.m. on Sunday (peninsular time), has been captured by the detectors of the astronomical complex of La Hita, in La Puebla de Almoradiel (Toledo), within the framework of Smart project, as reported this Monday by that observation center.

The Smart project continuously monitors the sky in order to record and study the impact against the Earth’s atmosphere of rocks from different objects in the Solar System.

In a press release, the La Hita complex explained that the analysis made by the astrophysicist from the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics (IAA-CSIC) and responsible for the Smart project, Jose Maria Madiedo, determined that the rock that originated the fireball entered the earth’s atmosphere over the south of the province of Ciudad Real.

Due to its high speed, the sudden friction with the air caused the rock to turn incandescent at a height of about 97 kilometers on the vertical of Puertollano.

This incandescence generated the brilliant ball of fire, which due to its great luminosity could be seen from more than 500 kilometers away, practically from all over Spain.

The fireball, what showed several explosions throughout its trajectory, advanced in a westerly direction and became extinct at an altitude of about 64 kilometers, which implies that it was completely destroyed at high altitude, without any fragment hitting the ground.

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