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Meteor sends booming noise across Vermont after exploding in the sky

It was about the size of a softball but exploded like 440 pounds of TNT.
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
Rendering of meteor over Earth. Portions of the image were supplied by NASA.

A meteor passing overhead of Vermont Sunday before exploding left a sound described as a "loud boom and body-rattling vibration." 

The meteor was only about the size of a softball but exploded like 440 pounds of TNT, according to Space.com

On Facebook, resident Shannon Lemley-Willis said she "heard it in Johnson, VT! Kids were playing outside and described it as ‘big trucks crashing.’”

The meteor ripped through the evening sky over Vermont on Sunday, March 7, creating a spectacular light show and causing Earth-shaking booms as it burned through the atmosphere.

NASA Meteor Watch says that the meteor occurred over northern Vermont, first appearing at a height of 52 miles above Mount Mansfield State Forest. Moving northeast at 42,000 miles per hour, it traversed 33 miles through the upper atmosphere before burning up 33 miles above Beach Hill in Orleans County south of Newport.

NASA Meteor Watch says the object was likely a fragment of an asteroid. As it penetrated deeper into the atmosphere, pressure built upon its front while a partial vacuum formed behind it. About 30 miles up, the pressure difference between front and back exceeded its structural strength. 

The space rock fragmented violently, producing a pressure wave that rattled buildings and generated the sound heard by those near the trajectory. Such a pressure wave can also couple into the ground, causing minor "tremors" that can be picked up by seismic instruments in the area. 

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