Fireballs are always spectacular when we can glimpse them as they burn through the atmosphere. But according to some recently collated data, they are becoming more and more common.
It's Armageddon, people. Fire and brimstone falling from the sky. It's the end of the world! Ok, melodrama aside, it appears there has been a significant increase in the numbers of fireballs being recorded entering the Earth's atmosphere from 2013 to present.
According to data collated by Dr. M.A. Rose and published on SOTT.net, the number of fireballs increased 120 percent from 2013 to 2014 and another 20 percent from 2014 to 2015. Rose used data from the American Meteor Society and NASA's All-Sky Fireball Network.
Among the findings:
- From mid-2010, the average number of fireballs significantly increased, until late 2015 when the rolling average stabilized.
- Fireball frequency is most concentrated in the months August to December. However, the numbers for June and July are also increasing significantly, suggesting that the area of space from which asteroid and comet debris is reaching Earth is increasing in size.
- There has been a consistent increase in asteroid numbers from 1998-2013, and significant increases for 2014 and 2015, which shadows the big increases in fireballs observed over those two years.
The report also looks at Near Earth Asteroids and the larger number of asteroids being captured as moons by the gravity of Saturn and Jupiter, as well as the number of fireballs caused by meteor showers. He notes that most fireballs are classified as "sporadics" meaning that they aren't associated with any particular shower or comet debris.
Rose speculates that a couple things may be occurring: A brown dwarf companion to the sun in a large elliptical orbit is spewing more debris into the inner solar system, although no dwarf has yet been found (the Nemesis hypothesis), and/or giant comets from the trans-Neptune region (known as Centaurs) are being displaced and disintegrating, causing the increased fireball activity (the Napier et al paper). In the latter, he quotes "All three major 20th-century impacts (Tunguska, British Guiana, Curuca River) coincided with our passage through major meteoroid streams (respectively, the Beta Taurids, Geminids and Perseids)," noting a dramatic increase in the number of fireballs from the Perseids and Northern Taurids.
Check out the gallery below for all of the charts that Rose included, and read all of his conclusions at the Signs of the Times site. Whether you believe Armageddon is coming or not, the findings are interesting. Start watching the skies for more fireballs.
Source: Signs of the Times