Open Access Articles- Top Results for Bolide


For the Swedish guided missile BOLIDE, see RBS 70.
A very bright meteor of an apparent magnitude of −14 or brighter (known as a bolide in astronomy)

A bolide is an extremely bright meteor that often explodes in the atmosphere. In astronomy, it refers to a fireball approximately as bright as the full moon, and it is generally considered a synonym of a fireball. In geology a bolide is a very large impactor.

One definition describes a bolide as a fireball reaching an apparent magnitude of −14 or brighter, which is brighter than the full moon.[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]

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.[1][4] Recent examples of a superbolide are the Sutter's Mill meteorite and the Chelyabinsk meteor.

See also


  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

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