Last week on the Chilean island of Chiloe, bright fireballs appeared in the sky, crashed to Earth, and set several fires. And while the same thing has happened across the globe over the years, those were almost always as a result of falling meteorites.
But astronomers say what took place in Chile had nothing to do with meteorites, and they’re not completely sure how to explain exactly what might be behind this latest mystery from the skies.
Look, Up in the Sky…
Not long after the fireball appeared and crashed, Chilean astronomer José Maza explained that what had been seen was merely a meteorite, according to LiveScience:
“José Maza told Chilean news network TVN that the blazing bodies were likely either meteorites or space debris that had detached from rockets or satellites, according to CNET. On Sept. 26, astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics chimed in on Twitter, saying that the falling objects were probably meteorites and that there were ‘no obvious space debris candidates that [he could] see.
“‘But [it] sometimes takes a few days for relevant data to come in,’ McDowell added.”
Not a Meteorite
Sure enough, when the “relevant data” came in, the meteorite theory quickly fell apart:
“None of the seven sites contained traces of meteorite.”
So if it’s not a meteorite, what exactly caused so much commotion and speculation Chile? Was it visitors from another planet or solar system?
Who You Calling ‘Junk”?
The most likely suspect at this point is that the fireball was probably the result of some sort of space junk/trash that fell from orbit, according to Vice:
“It’s vastly more likely that the fireball was caused by our own civilization’s space trash than any spacefaring alien species paying a visit.
“There are millions of small objects in orbit, and thousands of pieces larger than 10 centimeters. This debris is composed of tiny chipped-off parts of spacecraft, dead satellites, spent rocket boosters, and other human-made junk. Hundreds of pieces of space junk and thousands of meteorites fall to Earth each year, though they mostly land in the oceans and unpopulated areas on land.”
At this point, there remains no explanation for what took place last week. Soil samples were taken and will be sent to a lab for analysis. And a close-up look at the debris may also reveal the composition of the elements found in what remains of the mystery object. Until those are made public, it appears we’ll have to wait patiently for our visitors from another galaxy to show themselves and let us know they have indeed arrived.
Here’s more on the mystery objects over Chile:
Featured Image Via YouTube Screenshot