Researchers confirm meteor as source of flash and boom west of Montreal


Tuesday night, at just before 8 p.m. Eastern Time, a bright flash of light and a sonic boom to the west of Montreal sent people to Twitter and Facebook to flood the internet with speculation about what it could have been. It took a couple of days, but researchers have now confirmed that it was a meteor that exploded high above the ground.

There's still no video or photos of the meteor, due to the cloud cover from the snowstorm that was passing through the area at the time. However, according to CBC News, researchers from the University of Western Ontario used sonic data collected from sensors on the ground to trace the path of the meteor from north to south, and estimate the size of the rock at around 20 centimetres in diameter. If it belonged to the most common type of meteor (ordinary chondrites), at that size it probably tipped the scales at around 14 kilograms, and would have been a fireball or possibly even a bolide.

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When this meteoroid entered the atmosphere, probably travelling at around 60,000 kilometres per hour, it created a bow shock in the air in front of it. The air molecules being crammed together in front of it heated up until they were glowing hot, creating the bright streak across the sky that astronomers call a meteor. This wouldn't heat up the rock much, since air doesn't transfer heat very well, but it would exert tremendous pressure on the leading side of the rock. Eventually this pressure overcame the rock's integrity and it exploded.

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The flash of light created by the meteor and explosion was only visible closer to Montreal, but the shock wave created by it was apparently strong enough to rattle windows all the way to Ottawa and Cornwall.

No fragments of the meteoroid were found, and given the combination of snowfall and wilderness in the area, finding anything is unlikely. However, for anyone who lives in the area, if you do manage to locate fragments of this rock, they can be quite valuable, and according to Canadian law, meteorites are the property of whoever owns the land where they were found.

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