What Were the Odd Fireballs That Rained Down on Chile?

Goodness gracious great balls of fire!

A series of fireballs streaked over the skies of Chile recently, several making impact in the ground and setting off fires across the South American nation. Witnesses and local scientists say they were not meteors – so what were they?

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According to local reports, the fiery UFOs descended on Dalcahue City on the Chilean island of Chiloé on Sept. 25. The tumbling objects crash-landed in seven locations, setting off fires that were promptly put out by volunteer firefighters. Chiloé island resident Bernardita Ojeda had one fireball land on her property, where the flames ignited a few bushes, Ojeda told local news station Channel 2. N injuries were reported.

Geologists from Chile’s National Geology and Mining Service arrived at all seven crash sites to examine the areas that had been scorched by the falling “space stuff.” While they conducted their analyses, the story spread through local news, social media, and national outlets.

Chilean astronomer and astrophysicist José Maza told Chilean news network TVN that the blazing bodies were unlikely meteorites, and were more likely to be “space debris” that had detached from rockets or satellites. Yet, on Sept. 26, astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics chimed in on Twitter, saying that the falling objects were probably meteorites and that there were “no obvious space debris candidates that [he could] see.” Adding that, “[it] sometimes takes a few days for relevant data to come in.”

On Sept. 28, the geologists released their official assessment – none of the seven sites contained traces of meteorite. Since the mysterious objects weren’t meteors, logic dictates that they must have been wayward space junk, but officials said they’ll be conducting more detailed analyses of soil samples collected from the singed sites to make sure.

The geologists will release their results later this month. Only time will tell what exactly fell from the heavens on that unusual September evening.

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Have you ever seen a UFO? What do you think these fiery objects were? Reply using the comments below!