Meteors roaming around the vastness of the night sky doesn’t represent something peculiar at all. But how about spotting a space rock that has such a weird trajectory that you would shout ‘Has anyone filmed it?’? Luckily or not, nature seems to have endless possibilities sometimes.
One meteor that was sweeping the sky over Australia three years ago seemed to have said ‘Oops, wrong turn!’ all of a sudden. This phenomenon left people speechless, along with the team of researchers that studied the phenomenon. The lead author was Patrick Shober, a graduate student at Curtin University in Western Australia.
It now heads for Jupiter
The meteor has a long road to cross, the astronomers expecting the celestial object to arrive at our Solar System’s biggest planet by 2025. But what celestial show the meteor offered to us is unforgettable. For over a minute, the space rock kept burning, leaving a long trace of light across the sky.
Most of the meteors are disintegrating into our atmosphere due to the contact with air and gravitational acceleration. But it seems like the ‘naughty’ asteroid has a mind of its own.
How was it possible?
Patrick Shober, the lead author of the study, offers us a compelling explanation:
It gained orbital energy from the close encounter the same way a space mission might use a slingshot maneuver,
But what will the end of the ‘Australian’ meteor look like? Shober says that after it tangles with Jupiter’s giant gravity, it will most likely be sent into interstellar space. We shouldn’t place our bets on the meteor ever finding a route to visit us again, because that would be a chance out of 999 trillion at the power of trillions of trillions of trillions.
Therefore, we better wait for anything else to happen rather than for the return of the meteor that amazed astronomers three years ago. Don’t worry, the Universe never runs out of stunning sights.