On September 14, residents of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and northern England saw a bright fireball and shared videos of the event on social media. The American Meteor Society and the International Meteor Organization received more than 900 reports of the fireball over the UK. Some observers even reported hearing a rumble following the event.
Initially, it was unclear if the fireball was the result of a meteoroid – a natural space rock – entering Earth’s atmosphere and becoming a meteor, or the re-entry of a piece of space debris, although some early evidence did point to the latter.
Expert opinions on the origin of the fireball differed, but an analysis of its path showed that the fireball was a piece of space rock that entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of 51,500 km/h.
Meteors usually enter the atmosphere at about 121,000 to 129,000 km/h, while space junk is much slower, with its speed reaching about 40,000 km/h, depending on the trajectory.