VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – A bright streaking light over Vancouver last night has generated plenty of excitement by space enthusiasts. But what exactly was it?
Derek Kief with the H.R. Macmillan Space Centre says it was, indeed, a meteor.
“A meteor is basically a piece of dust or anything, really, that burns up in our atmosphere. The bigger they are, the brighter they are because they are burning up more of the actual piece of dust or rock or whatever it was,” he describes.
“Most likely, it’s a remnant from the meteor shower that we just went through — the Persieds. Most likely, it was just a piece that was trailing from that meteor shower from the past couple of weeks.”
“The Persiods meteor shower happens every year… when the Earth’s orbit goes through the tail of a comet. What happens is as we go through the comet’s tail that’s left behind from the comet’s trajectory around space, all of these little particles — these small pieces of dust and rock, as well as ice, primarily — get burnt up in our atmosphere. So, the Persiods meteor shower is one of our brighter meteor showers. Upwards of 100 meteors per hour on the brightest days,” says Kief.
He says size is the main reason the sighting was so bright.
“Meteors move upwards of about 11 kilometres a second. They’re moving very, very, very fast. Seventy-two thousand kilometres per hour or so. So, what we’re looking at when you see that bright streak… the brightness is actually caused through friction, through resistance. So, when it comes into our atmosphere, the air resistance… is strong enough to actually light it on fire.”
“It gets so hot. Just like if you start to rub your hands together, you create friction; you create heat from the friction that you have. The same thing is happening but on quite significantly, astronomically speaking, larger scales. So, the reason why it would be so bright and last so long is because it’s so much bigger,” explains Kief.