It looks like another space rock has exploded over Russia. At around 7 pm local time on April 6, a meteor turned into a fireball over the industrial town of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia, according to The Siberian Times.
Residents caught the event on dashcams as the meteor streaked across the sky – an orange fireball with a bright tail, with a sound locals said was similar to a plane.
It exploded high in the sky over the Irkutsk region, to the East of Krasnoyarsk.
A meteor that explodes in mid-air before it hits the ground is known as a bolide. It’s thought that the high-pressure air in front of the falling meteor seeps into cracks in the rock, increasing internal pressure and causing the rock to break apart.
Larger meteors can explode with a tremendous amount of energy, such as the 440-kiloton Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013, and the over 3-megaton Tunguska event in 1908, which flattened 2,000 square kilometres (770 square miles) of Siberian forest.
And just December last year, a 173-kiloton bolide exploded over the Bering Sea.
Although spectacular, the Krasnoyarsk meteor was not of this scale – the local ministry reported that it did not pose a threat either to people or infrastructure.
But this part of the planet has definitely seen its share of bolides recently: on March 15, a meteor harmlessly exploded over Krasnoyarsk with 0.15 kilotons of energy, according to NASA’s bolide map (which also tells us that Russia isn’t the only place with exploding meteors).
It broke up mid-air and landed not far from the Tunguska site.
— Kirill Bakanov (@WeatherSarov) April 6, 2019
Experts said this so-called New Tunguska meteor was around one metre (3.3 feet) in diameter, and wasn’t travelling as fast as the Chelyabinsk meteor, whose aftermath injured over 1,200 people.
We don’t yet have the stats on this weekend’s bolide, but early analysis suggests it was a little bigger than the New Tunguska meteor.
“It … moved with a speed higher than the New Tunguska meteor from Evenkia,” meteorite expert Viktor Grokhovsky of Ural Federal University told The Siberian Times.
“Its structure must have been quite loose given that it split into fragments.”