A fireball that was recently seen over Brazil may have been an interstellar object. This is incredibly significant as only two other objects traveling through our Solar System have been identified as being interstellar – ‘Oumuamua and Comet 2I/Borisov.
‘Oumuamua was discovered in October of 2017 traveling at a whopping speed of 196,000 miles per hour and has since been the subject of countless theories regarding its origins. While some theories make more sense like it being a comet, asteroid, hydrogen iceberg, dust bunny, or part of a Pluto-like planet, other hypotheses are little more bizarre, such as it being alien technology.
Comet 2I/Borisov was found in August of 2019 and since then, astronomers have been fascinated with it. In a recent report, experts have described the comet as being the most “pristine” space object that’s ever been observed. It is believed that our sun was the only star that the comet passed closely by. This is very important because when comets get close to stars, they may become degraded or altered by the solar heat and radiation, but when it passed by our sun, its composition of dust and gas was totally original and pure.
Furthermore, experts think that Comet 2I/Borisov may have formed from different parts of its system – from close to the host star to locations a lot further away. This could be explained by a bunch of space debris being tossed around by strong gravitational forces from large exoplanets.
As for the meteor seen above Brazil, the Earth-grazer was witnessed streaking across the sky over Rio Grande do Sul on May 30th. Two cameras from Brazil’s Meteor Watch Network (Bramon) recorded the meteor traveling across the sky. Since the meteor entered our planet’s atmosphere at a shallow angle of 6.1 degrees, it is referred to as an Earth-grazer.
The meteor began to burn up when it was at an altitude of 101 miles (162.5 kilometers) south of Capão Comprido, RS. It was moving at a fast speed of 143,350 miles per hour (230,700 kilometers per hour). To put this into better perspective, it traveled 151 miles (243 kilometers) in just 3.8 seconds prior to disappearing to the east of Carlos Barbosa in the Rio Grande do Sul state.
In a statement provided by Bramon, the meteor may actually be an interstellar object. The statement read in part, “Preliminary analyses indicate that it was generated by a meteoroid coming from outside the solar system.” If this is correct, this would only be the third ever space object of interstellar origin to have been documented in our Solar System.
A video of the meteor above Brazil can be seen here.