New Delhi: It was a spectacular show in the sky early Tuesday morning, when a small asteroid entered the earth's atmosphere releasing a huge amount of light and energy before exploding.
The asteroid, 2008 TC3, entered the earth's atmosphere at 2.46 am (GMT) in Sudan (Africa). The asteroid was also visible in Europe but not in Asia.
"Measuring only a few meters across, the space rock created a spectacular fireball, releasing huge energy as it disintegrated and exploded in the atmosphere," Director of Nehru Planetarium N Rathnashree said.
The celestial activity holds significance for space scientists as for the first time they were able to predict in advance that asteroid of such small size will hit the earth surface Tuesday morning, Rathnashree said.
Turning down apprehensions of small asteroids causing an impact on people and property, Rathnashree said: "There is nothing to be panicky as after explosion in the atmosphere, only small pieces reach the ground as meteorites."
When a small asteroid enters the earth atmosphere, it compresses the air in front of it. That compression heats the air, which in turn heats the object, causing it to glow and vaporize, with small pieces reaching the earth.
Astronomers in Arizona in the US discovered the asteroid on October 5 as it was inching closer to the earth.