Fireball streaks across Vermont, producing loud boom and shock waves that rattled buildings, U.S.


A bright fireball streaked across the night sky over Vermont, U.S., at around 22:36 UTC on Sunday, March 7, 2021. According to NASA, the meteor traveled at a speed of around 66 000 km/h (42 000 mph), producing a loud boom as it "fragmented so violently" and shock waves that shook buildings. The American Meteor Society (AMS) received 216 reports from witnesses as far north as Quebec, Canada, and as far south as New York.

The fireball first appeared over Mount Mansfield State Forest, moving at 53 km/h (33 mph) before burning up above Beach Hill in Orleans County.

In a statement by NASA Meteor Watch, the agency noted that the fireball traveled at around 66 000 km/h (42 000 mph). As the object penetrated deeper into the atmosphere, it fragmented violently, producing a pressure wave that shook buildings and produced a loud boom heard by those near the trajectory. 

"Such a pressure wave can also couple into the ground, causing minor 'tremors' that can be picked up by seismic instruments in the area; the wave itself can be detected by infrasound (low-frequency sound that can travel great distances) stations," NASA wrote.

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"In the case of last night, we were obtained infrasound measurements from 3 nearby stations– the amplitudes and durations of the signals put the energy of the fireball fragmentation at 200 kg (440 lbs) of TNT," it added.

"We can combine this energy with the speed to get a mass and size of the object– 4.5 kg (10 lbs) and 15 cm (6 inches) in diameter."

The AMS received 216 reports from witnesses as far north as Quebec in Canada and as far south as New York. Based on the trajectory, the fireball traveled southwest to northeast over Vermont.


Fireball heatmap. Image credit: AMS

Featured image credit: summon infosec/YouTube


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