Science

A brief tale of meteor showers

The meteors shower like falling stars of faraway yet they happen right before our eyes, just a few miles above our heads.

Shooting stars find themselves in folklores, myths, and beauteous sights of wonder. Many stories and tales have been spun around this mysterious phenomenon. So, let’s embark on a tale that tells their tale.

 

Formation of Meteors: A glimpse into the past of our solar system

When the dust began to collect after the events of the big bang and the formation of our sun from the solar nebula took place, the particles accumulated together to form planets. When the sun was forming from the remnants of another previous star, the gasses flung out of the near field of the sun’s pull and went to the outer edge of the solar system. 

There they formed the gas giants and the rocky materials still burning – newly detached from the heated solar surface – formed the rocky planets. One of which was earth. 

 

How the meteors got pulled into all this: The Physics of Gravity

When all of this happened, some gasses and rocky material were flung out into space between the planets. And this created a system that ended up being one of the most complex problems of the 21st century that can only be solved by simulations and a ginormous amount of math. The problem is called the n-body problem. 

And this is how the meteors got slipped into the orbital pull of the region most reside in the solar system. The belt between Mars and Jupiter. It is called the asteroid belt.

 

The meteor’s journey: How they travel to earth and other entities from where they come

Meteors would essentially begin their journey from the Oort Cloud (which engulfs the solar system), the Kuiper Belt (which lies beyond Neptune), or the Asteroid Belt (between Jupiter and Mars). They would be first attracted by Jupiter’s immense gravity and then get flung toward Earth or Mars. Then they would travel across space till they reach us where they get a final assist from the moon’s gravity and either get nudged into the atmosphere or get spun away into space.

 

The meteors: Asteroids that reach the earth with a dazzling spectacle

When the asteroids finally get pulled by earth’s gravity into the atmosphere, they become meteorites and leave us, earthlings, with one of the most beautiful sights to behold. These rocks tend to have a slight periodic nature amidst their chaotic paths and allow us to predict when and where they’ll shower down.

So, go to a destination with clear skies and let the burning rocks dazzle with a show of lights.

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