Astronomy Picture of the Day

A Twisted Meteor Train

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#66233 by @ 03.02.2005 00:00 - nach oben -
A Twisted Meteor Train

Did this meteor leave a twisting path? Evidently.

Meteor trains
that twist noticeably are rare -
and even more rarely photographed - but have been
noted before.

The underlying reason for
unusual meteor trains
is that many meteors are markedly non-spherical
in shape and non-uniform in composition.

Meteors, usually sand sized grains that originate in comets,
will disintegrate as they enter the
Earth's atmosphere.

Non-uniform meteors may evaporate more on one side than another.

This may cause a
rotating meteor to wobble slightly in its path,
and also to
spray fast moving debris
in a nearly spiral path.

The fast moving meteor debris ionizes molecules in the
Earth's atmosphere that subsequently glow when they reacquire

Surely no meteor is perfectly uniform and spherical, so that
a slight swagger that is below perceptibility is likely typical.

Meteors may well have seeded
Earth with the
prebiotic molecules that allowed for the
development of life.

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