Science

The fireball crosses the skies over Scotland and Northern Ireland.

According to the first observations of scientists, this is space debris from the Starlink satellite, from Elon Musk’s SpaceX company, which plans to launch thousands of such objects into orbit.

It was neither a UFO nor a sign of Queen Elizabeth II. This Wednesday evening, residents of Scotland, Northern Ireland and even northern England were able to see a fireball crossing the sky for about twenty seconds. According to The Guardian, the British meteor network received about 800 reports of this.

Plenty of videos and images have been posted on social media, and some internet users have wondered—even worried—about the phenomenon. Theories and attempts at explanation are multiplying.

Starlink satellite

Nevertheless, fears or hopes quickly dissipated. If it hasn’t been fully verified yet, it looks like it’s again a device from Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. While many thought it was a meteorite, British Meteor Network astronomer John McLean told the Guardian it was likely space debris as it was moving too slowly to be a meteorite.

According to him and other researchers, SpaceX’s Starlink satellite was the most likely cause. Thousands of them have been developed to form a constellation of satellites that will be placed in orbit around the Earth to provide Internet connectivity.

John McLean explained that Starlink satellites “are deorbiting fairly regularly as they have a limited lifetime in space.”

“We expect more than 40,000 satellites in the next few years. Soon, one in five objects you see in the sky at night could be a satellite,” he laments. Indeed, if this debris is not dangerous, then it is the cause of inconvenience and inconvenience for astronomical observations.

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