A fast-moving, brightly burning "object" flew across the sky above Heathrow Airport on Sunday (19 November) night. The flashing object appeared just ahead of a passenger jet approaching the airport. A video of this event is now going viral on social media.
Although how close the object came to the landing aircraft is not known, the footage of the incident, captured by Airlive, shows that the aircraft came pretty close to being hit by it. It is also not clear at this time if it had actually hit, the extent of damage it might have caused to the aircraft.
The video shows a flash of light similar to those emitted by meteorites in the atmosphere -- it gives out a long, bright flash and then simply goes out. There were no reports of falling rocks or other objects at that time.
The video was shared by Airlive on its Twitter account. Its Live Cam, which is installed in the London borough of Hillingdon, captured the footage, says a report by the Daily Mail (DM). The tweet described the flash as a shooting star.
"There was probably no immediate danger for any passenger aircraft as these objects tend to burn up, as seen in the footage, at altitudes of 20 to 45 miles (30 to 70 km), well above the flight level of planes," said Clemens Rumpf, a visiting fellow of the University of Southampton, speaking to DM. "My hunch is that this was a large meteor about one metre in diameter," he added.
Shooting stars refer to meteoroids that enter the atmosphere and burn up in the air. They are usually the bits of dust and small particles that are left behind when comets orbit the Sun. During certain parts of the year, when the Earth passes through trails left behind by comets, they can be more easily seen. Most of them do not make it to the Earth's surface. If they do, they are usually small, possibly the size of a pebble, but larger rocks have been found in the past.
While most viewers of the clip online called it a shooting star, there is still no word on what it actually was.
Many people online also started talking about conspiracy theories on aliens, UFOs and falling space debris.
One user even suggested the supernatural.