A small space rock that slammed into Earth’s atmosphere and flamed out as a spectacular fireball over Brazil may have traveled from beyond our solar system to put on the bright display.
Brazil’s Meteor Watch Network (Bramon) captured the so-called Earth-grazer meteor on Sunday evening over the southern part of the country. Two cameras in the network captured the meteoroid burning up in a brilliant streak painting its way across the night sky.
The fireball is considered an Earth-grazer because it collided with our atmosphere at a very shallow angle. A statement from Bramon suggests the meteor may have interstellar origins. “Preliminary analyses indicate that it was generated by a meteoroid coming from outside the solar system,” it said.
The science around interstellar objects visiting our solar system is nascent and controversial.
The first cosmic body identified as coming from beyond our sun’s area of influence was dubbed Oumuamua. The oddly shaped object has been the subject of debate since its discovery, with Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb repeatedly doubling down on the disputed idea that it may have been some sort of.
Loeb and others have alsoto suggest some objects that make it to Earth likely have occupied other star systems at some point.
Chasing interstellar objects like Oumuamua may one day provide new insights into the nature of the universe, but collecting interstellar meteorites that make it to the ground might be a far easier way to go about it.
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