Boom-like sounds associated with fireball over northern Virginia and eastern West Virginia, U.S.


There are many reports of 'boom-like' sounds associated with a couple of fireball sightings from northern Virginia around 14:30 UTC on September 17 (10:30 EDT). It's possible this event produced meteorites in the northern Virginia/eastern West Virginia area.

The currently available data are insufficient to determine a trajectory, but a strong fireball-like signature shows up at 14:24 UTC in the GOES 16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) data, permitting an estimation of the energy of this event.1

A comparison to a previous fireball with good ground and GLM data puts the brightness of this morning's meteor at magnitude -12, the same brightness as the full Moon.

This corresponds to energy between 1 and 2 tons of TNT, which gives a mass of around 22.5 kg (50 pounds) for the object causing the fireball — assuming a typical speed of 72 000 km/h (45 000 mph).

GLM imagery showing the fireball above the clouds. Credit: NOAA/GOES-East, NASA

Approximate location of the fireball. Credit: NASA

"The fragmentation of the object produced a pressure wave recorded by seismometers and infrasound instruments in the area," NASA's Meteor Watch said.

"A very quick analysis of the infrasound signal indicates an energy of a few tons of TNT, in reasonable agreement with the GLM energy estimate."

No camera imagery has surfaced so far, due to the heavy cloud cover over the region.

It is possible that this event produced meteorites somewhere in the northern Virginia/eastern West Virginia area.

Signal from a local infrasound station, caused by the pressure wave produced when the object fragmented.

Signal from a local infrasound station, caused by the pressure wave produced when the object fragmented. Credit: NASA


1 NASA Meteor Watch – FB

Featured image credit: NOAA/GOES-East, NASA


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