A huge meteor spotted streaking through UK skies overnight on Sunday is likely to have been a small piece of an asteroid entering the Earth’s atmosphere, scientists have said.
Social media users have been sharing their footage of the "fireball" meteor, which was captured by security cameras across the country just before 10pm.
The phenomenon sent a sonic boom across southern England, according to scientists from the UK Fireball Alliance (UKFall), which is led by staff at the Natural History Museum.
UKFall said the bright light could be seen from Ireland to the Netherlands, and the meteor is set to break the world record as the most-reported ever – with 758 such reports on International Meteor Organisation’s website so far.
“The video recordings tell us its speed was about 30,000 miles per hour, which is too fast for it to be human-made ‘space junk’, so it’s not an old rocket or satellite,” said UKFall’s Dr Ashley King.
“The videos also allowed us to reconstruct its original orbit around the sun. In this case, the orbit was like an asteroid’s.
“This particular piece of asteroid spent most of its orbit between Mars and Jupiter, though sometimes got closer to the Sun than Earth is.”
UKFall said though the meteor fragmented in the atmosphere it is likely “a few fragments” reached the ground.
The UK Meteor Observation Network, a group that operates meteor detection cameras across the country, said a fireball meteor is simply a particularity bright meteor.
They can come in a variety of colours and are usually magnitude -4.
By 11pm, the network had received 120 reports of the meteor from those across the UK and Ireland.
Reports and footage were shared from across the country, including Solihull, Leeds, Powys, London, Devon and Essex.
Alongside earnest reports of sightings, Twitter users shared jokes about the meteor.
"I didn't see that #meteor this evening, but I would advise staying away from any large walking plants tomorrow," Lee Brown quipped.
Another joked that in reality, the meteor was their toddler "overlord" arriving to take over the world.