This is how every good B movie begins: A mysterious fireball has fallen from the sky, and no one knows where it came from. Or where it went, for that matter.
On September 25, an unidentified object was spotted over Dalcahue City on Chiloé Island, an island in southern Chile. It first appeared to witnesses as a flaming object, which then broke into several smaller ones.
The separate fiery pieces then landed in seven different locations, reportedly starting fires and sparking a mystery that has yet to be solved.
According to Live Science, one of the fireball fragments landed on the property of Bernardita Ojeda, igniting “a few bushes.” Other nearby residents reported that they heard no sound made by the object as it fell.
Some Twitter users shared images of their sightings, such as @mmacaya, writing “Meteorite fall reported in mocopulli chiloe”:
Se reporta caída de meteorito en mocopulli chiloe pic.twitter.com/7w3KGEgnln
— marcelo macaya (@mmacaya) September 25, 2019
As to the nature of the strange fireball, speculation has included everything from meteorites, space debris, to perhaps something of extraterrestrial origin.
As ScienceAlert reports, however, the object was unlikely to be a meteorite, as meteorites aren’t known to start fires. It’s even possible, they write, though perhaps unlikely, that “the two events might not be in any way connected.”
Adding to this, geologists over at Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service investigated the fire sites and took soil samples for analysis. While their investigation is ongoing, they were able to determine that none of the sites contained evidence of meteorite:
“They worked on seven points corresponding to burnt thickets, where they found no remains, vestiges or evidence of a meteorite falling.”
Space junk, then? Perhaps, but that remains uncertain. According to a tweet by astronomer Johnathan McDowell, there were “no obvious space debris candidates” at that time.
The mystery continues. We’ll have to wait for that soil analysis and perhaps more information on possible space debris before we can draw any firm conclusions. In the meantime, watch your heads.