Modern Physics

Shooting Stars

The so-called shooting stars are celestial bodies that penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere and burn due to friction with atmospheric elements.

The popular shooting stars are actually celestial bodies that enter the Earth’s atmosphere . Due to friction with the atmosphere, these elements combust and form a trail of light that can be observed at night. Therefore, shooting stars are not stars that fell from the sky , but objects that could be cometary debris or asteroid fragments.

“Shooting stars” enter our atmosphere with a speed of approximately 250,000 km/h. Most of them are completely disintegrated before they hit the ground. They are usually completely destroyed at altitudes between 90 km and 130 km from the earth’s surface.

→ Nomenclature of celestial bodies

Celestial bodies, when they are wandering through space, are called meteoroids. When they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, they are called meteors. If the meteor does not completely disintegrate and manages to reach the Earth’s surface, it will be called a meteorite.

When a meteorite hits the earth’s surface, it can cause numerous damages, such as opening huge craters, destroying buildings and even deaths. As an example, we can mention the meteorite that fell in 2013, in Chelyabinsk, Russia. On that occasion, buildings had their structures hit and 100 people sought medical attention.

→ Meteor showers

Knowing that the Earth’s motion is well defined and knowing the orbits of some comets, it is possible to predict the occurrence of the passage of numerous meteors across the sky. This intense passage of celestial bodies is called a meteor shower.

The meteor showers that occur during the year are named after the constellations of the zodiac . This nomenclature is given by the fact that the rain occurs precisely in the region of the sky where a certain constellation is observed and because it originates in the constellation. Here are some examples of meteor showers:

  • March Aquarids: Occurs in the month of March and was first detected in 1961. It gets its name because it apparently originated in the constellation of Aquarius.
  • Perseids: Occurs between July and August when Earth crosses the orbit of Comet Swift-tuttle. It gets its name because it apparently originated in the constellation of Perseus.
  • Orionids: Occurs between the months of September and November when the Earth crosses the orbit of the famous Halley’s Comet. It gets its name because it apparently originated in the constellation of Orion.
  • Lyrids: Occurs in the month of April and can reach a rate of 100 meteors per hour. It gets its name because it apparently originated in the constellation Lyra.
  • Ursids : Occurs in the month of December when Earth crosses the orbit of Comet Tuttle. It gets its name because it apparently originated in the constellation Ursa Minor.

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