NewsWorldA racing car, but not a meteorite: we know...

A racing car, but not a meteorite: we know more about the luminous ball seen in the sky of Brittany – BFMTV


The luminous ball observed in Brittany on Sunday evening was a “bolide”, a very luminous meteor which disintegrated in the atmosphere before touching the ground.

A meteor was seen this Sunday evening in a large part of the North West of France, and as far as the south of England. In places, the light given off by this fireball was so strong that it even recreated a semblance of day in the night sky for a few seconds.

The phenomenon was then documented by scientists from the Vigie-Ciel / Fripon network, which monitors the sky thanks to a hundred cameras on French territory, and collects information from witnesses of these events. Thus, in France but also across the Channel, “more than 400 witnesses report a very impressive object which was also heard by some” on Sunday evening, written Vigie-Ciel.

A “racing car”, not a “meteorite”

This information allowed the scientists of the network to determine the trajectory, but also the nature of this luminous ball. Thus, according to their observations, the object seen Sunday evening at 11:47 pm was 22 cm, weighed 40 kg, and “completely disintegrated” before touching the ground. Its trajectory in the atmosphere was 71 km long and lasted 3.7 seconds.

The observations therefore make it possible to classify it in the category of bolides (or meteors).

“A meteor is a very bright meteor (synonymous with shooting star). A meteor is generally designated by any meteor brighter than the planet Venus (the brightest star in the sky after the Sun and the Moon)”, explains the observatory of Pairs – PSL.

Meteors are “small debris of rocks from asteroids or comets: shooting stars also come from dust no larger than a grain of sand! If the object is larger, of the order of several centimeters or tens of centimeters, the luminous trail will be more intense. We then speak of a racing car “, details the monitoring network.

On the other hand, it is not a meteorite because only objects that end up crashing to the ground are qualified. However, “the initial speed of 21.5 km / s” (or about 77,500 km / h) “and an inclination of 34 ° with respect to the horizontal did not allow the survival of a meteorite”, writes Vigie-Ciel.

“A passage to the zenith of Brest”

According to the Paris observatory, the great light given off by the car is due to its speed, because it “moved very fast”. “This is partly what explained the intensity of its luminosity.”

Thanks to the testimonies received and their monitoring network, the scientists were able to retrace its trajectory: “The main parameters of the event are a passage through the zenith of Brest and a brilliant end of trajectory in the English Channel at an altitude of 39 km” , explains Vigie-Ciel.

Track of the meteor Sunday 5 September over Brittany
Meteor trajectory on Sunday 5 September over Brittany © Vigie Ciel

“The meteoroid came from the South, crossed Cornouaille passing the zenith of Morlaix to finish its race in the Channel”, explained to AFP Priscilla Abraham, scientist at the Rennes Science Center who is participating in this project of sky surveillance. Some witnesses “even heard the noise”. “It is the disintegration in the atmosphere of the car,” said the scientist.

According to her, these shooting stars and bolides phenomena can be observed all year round.

Salome Vincendon

Salome Vincendon BFMTV reporter


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