Superbolide lights up the night sky over Algeria, potential meteorite dropper

Superbolide lights up the night sky over Algeria, potential meteorite dropper

On the night of May 7, 2023, a huge superbolide turned the sky into a natural light show over Algeria.

The spectacular astronomical event took place at 22:59 UTC and was captured from staggering distances of up to 1 000 km (620 miles).

Dr. Josep M. Trigo, lead astrophysicist, planetary scientist, and a professor at the Institute of Space Sciences (CSIC-IEEC) said the event had an absolute magnitude of -18 and is one of the brightest recorded by the Red Investigación Bólidos y Meteoritos (SPMN) network in 27 years of operations.


A superbolide is a fireball brighter than magnitude -16 (those exhibiting an intermediate luminosity between the Moon and the Sun, and detectable from space).

The impressive spectacle was not just for show, as experts at the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC) believe the superbolide could be a potential meteorite dropper.

Meteorite droppers are meteors that survive their fiery descent through the Earth’s atmosphere and reach the ground as meteorites. These remnants of space debris can provide valuable insights into the composition of celestial bodies and the history of our solar system.

The event is currently under study by the ICE-CSIC, a research institute under the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Further information, including the estimated size of the superbolide and any potential meteorite landing sites, is expected to be released as the investigation progresses.

superbolide algeria may 2023 trajectory
Superbolide trajectory computed by Pau Grèbol, Eloy Peña-Asensio, and Josep M. Trigo-Rodríguez. Image credit: ICE-CSIC

Featured image: The superbolide brightest flare compared to the Moon (on top) as imaged from Bartolo Peak in Benicàssim at 750 km of distance. Image courtesy: Vicent Ibàñez/Red SPMN-CSIC


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