Pictures and Videos Show Meteor Streaking Across the Sky in Mexico and Exploding in Ball of Fire

Social media users in Mexico have shared video and images of a meteor that streaked across the sky on Tuesday night.

The ball of fire was visible from several areas including the State of Mexico, Guanajuato, Jalisco, Querétaro, San Luis Potosí, Puebla, and the capital Mexico City, local news outlet Milenio reported.

According to Mexico's Department of Seismology and Volcanism of the Institute of Geological and Atmospheric Research (SIMMSA,) the meteor entered the atmosphere above central regions of the country at 8:18 p.m. local time.

SIMMSA said that the object "very likely" disintegrated before touching the ground. The department posted a webcam video taken from the Torre Latinoamericana (Latin American Tower) in downtown Mexico City showing the meteor producing a bright flash.

This explosion is the result of friction with the Earth's atmosphere, which could have caused the object to disintegrate.

Así captó la cámara de la Torre Latinoamericana con vista al poniente, el bólido que entró a la atmósfera a las 20:18 horas del centro de México. La explosión es producto de la fricción con la atmósfera terrestre que provoca en muchas ocasiones la desintegración del #meteorito

— SIMMSA (@SIMMSAmex) February 19, 2020

The country's Civil Protection agency also confirmed that the object was a meteor that was likely destroyed in the air.

"It is unlikely that [the meteor] has impacted the territory and so far there are no reports that it has affected anywhere. We remain alert," the Civil Protection Agency said.

Así se vio en #Querétaro el #meteorito cayendo en México 😱😱

— Reporte Querétaro (@ReporteQRO_) February 19, 2020

Several users on social media reported seeing the meteor race through the sky, and many posted images and videos of the event.

"About 20 minutes ago I saw a meteorite fall... heading north, I am in Naucalpan... Amazing experience," one Twitter user wrote.

El #Meteorito visto desde #Tianguismanalco, #Puebla.


— Webcams de México (@webcamsdemexico) February 19, 2020

Meteors—colloquially referred to as "shooting stars"—are the streaks of light that appear in the sky when small pieces of asteroids or comets enter the Earth's atmosphere. As they fall at high speed, the friction causes them to burn up.

While the majority of these objects disintegrate before they reach the ground, any fragments that do make it to the planet's surface are called meteorites. Very bright meteors—those brighter than the planet Venus—that explode in the atmosphere with huge force are known as "bolides."

A las 8:40 pm aprox se pudo avistar un #meteorito con posible impacto en México, a mi me tocó verlo desde Oaxaca pero leo reportes de avistamientos en Hidalgo y la CDMX.

— Marco G. T. (@granTana) February 19, 2020

Before entering the Earth's atmosphere, small pieces of asteroid and comet debris are referred to as "meteoroids." These objects, which can be made of rock or metal, orbit the sun at various distances throughout the solar system. Sometimes they cross into Earth's orbital path.

Many of these meteoroids originate from asteroids that have collided with each other, while others form from the debris of comets.

Stock image: Artist's illustration of a meteor. iStock