From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Bolide is a term related to meteors and meteorites. There is no consensus on the definition of a bolide, so there are specific definitions used by several groups and fields.

One definition describes a bolide as a fireball reaching an apparent magnitude of −14 or brighter.1 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.2

A very bright meteor of an apparent magnitude of −14 or brighter (known as a bolide in astronomy)

The word bolide comes from Greek βολίς bolis, which means missile.3


The IAU has no official definition of bolide, and generally considers the term synonymous with "fireball". However, the term generally applies to fireballs reaching an apparent magnitude −14 or brighter.1 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.


Geologists use the term bolide more often than astronomers do;citation needed 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 composition (for example, whether it is a rocky or metallic asteroid, or an icy comet) is unknown.2


If the apparent magnitude of a bolide reaches −17 or brighter, it is known as a superbolide.14 Recent examples of a superbolide are the Sutter's Mill meteorite and the Chelyabinsk meteor.


  1. ^ a b c Belton, MJS (2004). Mitigation of hazardous comets and asteroids. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521827647. :156
  2. ^ a b "Introduction: What is a Bolide?". 1 April 1998. Retrieved 16 September 2011. 
  3. ^ "bolide". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005. 
  4. ^ Adushkin, Vitaly; Ivan Nemchinov (2008). Catastrophic events caused by cosmic objects. Springer. ISBN 1402064527. :133

See also

External links

Creative Commons License