Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2023 July 24
Explanation: Meteors can be colorful. While the human eye usually cannot discern many colors, cameras often can. Pictured here is a fireball, a disintegrating meteor that was not only one of the brightest the photographer has ever seen, but colorful. The meteor was captured by chance in mid-July with a camera set up on Hochkar Mountain in Austria to photograph the central band of our Milky Way galaxy. The radiant grit, likely cast off by an comet or asteroid long ago, had the misfortune to enter Earth's atmosphere. Colors in meteors usually originate from ionized chemical elements released as the meteor disintegrates, with blue-green typically originating from magnesium, calcium radiating violet, and nickel glowing green. Red, however, typically originates from energized nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. This bright meteoric fireball was gone in a flash -- less than a second -- but it left a wind-blown ionization trail that remained visible for almost a minute.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC,
NASA Science Activation
& Michigan Tech. U.