Technology What we know about the meteor that lit up the skies of Brittany

What we know about the meteor that lit up the skies of Brittany

The images are impressive. The sky over western France was brightly illuminated Sunday, September 5, shortly before midnight, by a meteor. The phenomenon has been observed in Brittany, Normandy and also in the south of England.

Franceinfo takes stock of what we know about this spectacular event.

A phenomenon visible as far as England

Shortly before midnight, at 11:47 p.m., a fireball illuminates the sky for a few seconds, before extinguishing itself. An appearance captured by the webcams of several French ports. “There is obviously an important object which has entered the atmosphere”, comments for franceinfo Francis Rocard, astrophysicist and head of solar system exploration programs at the National Center for Space Studies (Cnes).

According to the director of France Bleu Breizh Izel, Gurvan Musset, this flash was accompanied by the sound of a “big explosion”, probably that of the object in contact with the atmosphere. The phenomenon has led to numerous calls to firefighters and the gendarmerie of worried residents, specifies The Telegram. According to the Vigie-Ciel participatory science program, the celestial object entered the atmosphere in southern Brittany and flew over the region on an axis connecting Douarnenez to Morlaix. The phenomenon has also been visible from England, as these images of the port of Southampton show.

A certain bolide, a possible meteorite

It is still too early to say that a meteorite has fallen on Earth. As the National Center for Space Studies explains, a meteorite is a “fragment of an asteroid or comet of varying size, rocky or metallic, circulating in space and capable of reaching the surface of a star”. However, for the moment, we do not have any proof that pieces of the object have touched the soil of our planet.

By following the lexicon used by the Paris Observatory, we can more surely speak of a meteor, “a luminous phenomenon caused by the entry into the atmosphere of an asteroid debris”, even a racing car, a “meteor of very high luminous intensity, brighter than Venus, the brightest of the planets”. “Considering the luminous intensity of the object, I would not be surprised if one considers that there was a meteorite on the ground”, says Francis Rocard. Corn, “if the fragment fell into the water, we will never find it”.

A frequent phenomenon

Visually impressive, the phenomenon is not, however, exceptional. “Meteorites falling on Earth are a frequent, daily phenomenon, contextualizes Francis Rocard. But since the Earth is three quarters of water, most end up in water and we never find them. ” This kind of event is sometimes even more spectacular and dangerous than in Brittany. In 2013, a meteor shower left a thousand injured in Chelyabinsk (Russia). “People had come over to the windows to look and all the windows had shattered from the blast wave of the explosion.”, says Francis Rocard.

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