Meteor seen over skies in the Southwest

Colton Shone
June 03, 2016 06:08 PM

It was an incredible sight over New Mexico skies early Friday morning: a meteor streaking across the southwest.

A couple of UNM researchers are finding out things about those fireballs that no one else has ever discovered. This could answer a lot of questions about the solar system.


To the untrained eye, a short video that Ken Obenberger caught looks like a big blob of blue with a passing streak. But, to him, it's pure gold. It shows radio waves from a meteor's afterglow.

"We're using a radio telescope to look at meteors, look at the radio emission from meteors. Which no one else has ever done," Obenberger said.

He showed the same meteor in the way you would have seen it with your eyes in the night sky.

Obenberger said their telescope station has 256 antennae that track the emissions coming from the streak.

"An idea is that we're all made out of material that came here via meteors, so the water in our bodies, the carbon in our bodies. That didn't form on earth. That formed further out in our solar system and came in," he said.

Principal investigator Greg Taylor said this is opening an area of research so new they still don't know which questions to ask yet.

"Now we can zoom in on these fireballs in the atmosphere and see the amazing detail of how the explosion progresses," said Taylor, who is also a professor.

They've tracked over 150 meteors so far with their telescope field. 


Colton Shone

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