World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000364976
Reproduction Date:

Title: Bolide  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Meteorite, Impact event, Meteor procession, Sutter's Mill meteorite, Meteor shower
Collection: Atmospheric Entry, Meteoroids, Planetary Geology
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A bolide – a very bright meteor of an apparent magnitude of −14 or brighter
World map of bolide events (1994–2013)[1]

A bolide (French from the Greek βολίς bolis, "missile" or "to flash"[2][3]) is an extremely bright meteor that explodes in the atmosphere. In astronomy, it refers to a fireball approximately as bright as the full moon, and it is generally considered a synonym of a fireball. In geology a bolide is a very large impactor.

One definition describes a bolide as a fireball reaching an apparent magnitude of −14 or brighter, which is more than twice as bright as the full moon.[4] Another definition describes a bolide as any generic large crater-forming impacting body whose composition (for example, whether it is a rocky or metallic asteroid, or an icy comet) is unknown.[5]

A superbolide is a bolide which reaches an apparent magnitude of −17 or brighter.[4][6] Recent examples of superbolides are the Sutter's Mill meteorite and the Chelyabinsk meteor.


  • Astronomy 1
    • Superbolide 1.1
  • Geology 2
  • Gallery 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Animation of a bolide's atmospheric entry and air-burst

The IAU has no official definition of "bolide", and generally considers the term synonymous with fireball, a brighter-than-usual meteor. However, the term generally applies to fireballs reaching an apparent magnitude −14 or brighter.[4] Astronomers tend to use bolide to identify an exceptionally bright fireball, particularly one that explodes (sometimes called a detonating fireball). It may also be used to mean a fireball that is audible.


Selected superbolide air-bursts events:


Geologists use the term bolide in a somewhat different context than astronomers do. In geology, it indicates a very large impactor. For example, the Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center of the USGS uses bolide as a generic term that describes any large crater-forming impacting body of which its origin and composition is unknown, as, for example, whether it was a stony or metallic asteroid, or a less dense, icy comet made of volatiles, such as water, ammonia and methane.[5]


Footage of a superbolide exploding over Chelyabinsk Oblast, Russia in 2013.
A bolide from the Geminids meteor shower (SAO RAS, vmag  −3)
Tunguska event of 1908 (imaged by a Soviet expedition in 1927).

See also


  1. ^ "We are not Alone: Government Sensors Shed New Light on Asteroid Hazards". Universe Today. Retrieved 12 April 2015. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ "bolide".   (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ a b c Belton, MJS (2004). Mitigation of hazardous comets and asteroids. Cambridge University Press.  :156
  5. ^ a b "Introduction: What is a Bolide?". 1 April 1998. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  6. ^ Adushkin, Vitaly; Ivan Nemchinov (2008). Catastrophic events caused by cosmic objects. Springer.  :133

External links

  • historic record of bolides that have been witnessed entering the Earth’s atmosphere around the world from 861 through 2012 (B612 Foundation)
  • Bolide Events 1994 - 2013
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.