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Astron. Astrophys. 337, 591-602 (1998)

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Bolides produced by impacts of large meteoroids into the Earth's atmosphere: comparison of theory with observations

II. Beneov bolide spectra

J. Borovika 1, O.P. Popova 2, A.P. Golub' 2, I.B. Kosarev 2 and I.V. Nemtchinov 2

1 Ondejov Observatory, Astronomical Institute of the Academy of Sciences, CZ-251 65 Ondejov, Czech Republic
2 Institute for Dynamics of Geospheres, Russian Academy of Sciences, Leninsky pr. 38, build. 6, 117979 Moscow, Russia

Received 24 February 1998 / Accepted 3 June 1998


The unique observational spectrum of the very bright Beneov bolide EN 070591 is compared to theoretical bolide spectra. The -19.5 mag bolide was induced by a meteoroid of an estimated initial mass of 4000 kg, a density of 2 g cm-3 and a kinetic energy of [FORMULA] J (0.2 kT TNT). The ablating piston model predicts spectra of large bolides by radiative hydrodynamics calculations. We present examples of the calculated H-chondrite vapor spectral opacities and of the resulting spectra for various parameters.

Both theoretical and observed spectra show that bolide radiation is composed of atomic line emissions, molecular bands and continuum radiation. The role of the continuum increases with increasing meteoroid size and with decreasing altitude. The atomic lines are produced under the effective excitation temperature of 4000-6000 K.

The lines of Fe I are too faint and the lines of Ca I are too bright in the model in comparison with the observations. Also the computed continuum level is too high. These differences can be explained by the fact that the vapors occupy a larger volume and have lower density than predicted. This is probably a consequence of a mutual interaction of fragments after the meteoroid fragmentation and of a not well understood ablation process. Other differences between the theory and the observation are described and possible model improvements are discussed.

Key words: meteoroids, meteors

Send offprint requests to: J. Borovika (borovic@asu.cas.cz)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1998

Online publication: August 17, 1998