Officials Investigate Fireballs that Rained Down on Chile

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Officials Investigate Fireballs that Rained Down on Chile

 

Chile saw fireballs falling from the sky last week, and officials still have no idea what they were and where they came from.

Reports say the burning objects, which landed on Dalcahue City, Chiloé island on September 25, were not meteors. The objects set off fires in seven locations after their crash landings but were immediately put out by volunteer firefighters.

Geologists from Chile's National Geology and Mining Service arrived at the scene to investigate the seven sites that suffered burns from the falling objects. Local news, social media, and national outlets were quick to pick up the story as the geologists examined the sites.

 

Photo Credit: CEN via UNILAD

 

One of the fireballs landed in the private property of Chiloé island resident Bernardita Ojeda, who said the object's flames ignited a few bushes.

The fallen bodies were likely meteorites or space debris that had been torn off from rockets or satellites, explained Joé Maza, a Chilean astronomer and astrophysicist.

Astronomer Jonathan McDowell agreed with Maza's theory, saying that the objects were probably meteorites. There were "no obvious space debris candidates that [he could] see," he added on a Twitter post, according to Live Science.

"But [it] sometimes takes a few days for relevant data to come in," McDowell noted.

 

Photo Credit: Johan Swanepoel via 123RF.com

 

Three days later, the geologists released their official assessment saying that they didn't find any trace of meteorite in any of the seven sites. The statement added that the geologists conducted an interview with local residents, who said they didn't see nor heard noises associated with the fall.

If they weren't meteorites, Live Science says the fallen objects may have been wayward space junk.

Despite ruling out the possibility of a meteorite, the scientists still collected soil samples for a more thorough and detailed analysis to make sure. The statement said the geologists will announce final conclusions later this month, the science news site adds.

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