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Exploding meteor startles Utah

Two flashes on the GOES-17 Lightning Mapper aren't lightning, but a meteor trail and explosion.

Two flashes on the GOES-17 Lightning Mapper aren’t lightning, but a meteor trail and explosion.(Image credit: National Weather Service Salt Lake City)

A loud boom that shattered the Saturday morning quiet in Utah might have been a Perseid meteor.

In accordance with The Deseret News, the noise startled northern Utah at about 8: 32 a.m. local time. Numerous security and doorbell cams caught the sound. Seismographs eliminated an earthquake, and the National Weather Service Salt Lake City soon posted a radar image of two red flashes on a lightning monitor in an area where there is neither lightning nor a storm. The flashes were likely the meteor trail and flash, based on the weather service.

Security camera footage from Roy, Utah, soon clinched the identification: Posted to Twitter, the video shows a blue fireball streaking over the morning sky right before the boom.

Numerous reports of the fireball were posted to the American Meteor Society.

Related: Whats the difference between asteroids, comets and meteors?

There were no reports of meteorites found from the explosion, though a NASA volunteer told KSLTV that the explosion could have scattered space rock fragments over the area. The destruction of the meteor helps it be hard to find out where it comes from, but a likely culprit may be the Perseids, experts told the Deseret News.

The Perseid meteor shower occurs every year in July and August as Earth swings through debris left by the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle. The majority of this debris is miniscule, nonetheless it hits Earth’s atmosphere at 133,200 mph (214,360 km/h), based on the American Meteor Society. This season, the Perseids peaked on Aug. 11 and 12.

Meteors create sonic booms if they move over the atmosphere faster compared to the speed of sound, in accordance with CalTech’s CoolCosmos. Because light moves faster than sound, the “boom” of a traveling meteor usually comes several seconds following the sight of the fireball. However in most cases, meteors are too much in the atmosphere for the sound to attain any listening ears on the floor.

Falling space rock is relatively common. Earlier this season, a fireball lit up the skies over Ontario, Canada. Another scattered small meteorites (space rocks that reach the bottom) over Mississippi. On rare occasions, meteors large enough to cause damage streak through the atmosphere. In 2013, a big fireball exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, blowing out a large number of windows and creating an eye-burning flash. The meteor that caused the fireball was around 65 feet (20 meters) across, in accordance with EarthSky.

Originally published on Live Science.

Stephanie Pappas

Stephanie Pappas is really a contributing writer for Live Science, covering topics which range from geoscience to archaeology to the mind and behavior. She once was a senior writer for Live Science but is currently a freelancer located in Denver, Colorado, and regularly plays a part in Scientific American and The Monitor, the monthlymagazine of the American Psychological Association. Stephanie received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of SC and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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