Residents in the northeastern Siberian town of Salekhard saw a massive ball of light in the sky on Thursday, leaving some witnesses worried that the giant orb was an alien craft or a portal to another dimension.
The large bubble of light was seen by many, and at least five captured pictures and film.
The Siberian Times quoted witnesses who say the light show looked like “a gap in the space-time continuum.” According to the Siberian Times, the bubble was actually the result of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
— The Siberian Times (@siberian_times) October 27, 2017
The Siberian Times quoted witnesses who said the bubble of light was “scary.” Theories about alien visitors soon circulated on social media.
While many people quoted by the news site expressed concerns that the phenomenon might have something to do with aliens or “a gap in the space-time continuum,” The Siberian Times suspected it was caused by a rocket launch. Now, the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation (which operates the Russian armed forces) has said on Facebook that it launched a Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile last night as part of a test exercise.
The northern lights were expected to be particularly dazzling that night, which explains why photographers were already looking up when the bubble appeared.
Residents who saw the bubble in the Yamalo-Nenets region told the Siberian Times it sent “shivers down their spines.”
But what was it?
Some claim the bubble was actually the result of a Russian missile test.
A Topol-M intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from Plesetsk that night. It was aimed at the Kura testing range in Kamchatka near the Pacific coast.
“It was the the trace of the Topol rocket,” The Siberian Times says. “that caused this extraordinary phenomenon in the sky.”
The Russian Ministry of Defense reported on the training exercise for Russia’s strategic nuclear forces. They posted on their Facebook page details concerning multiple missile tests.
The missile was apparently launched from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northwestern Russia toward the Kura testing range in Kamchatka, which is on Russia’s western, Pacific peninsula, according to The Siberian Times and the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Siberian Times also reports that the northern lights were expected to be particularly bright last night, which explains why some of the photographers were already watching the sky when the bubble appeared.
ScienceAlert.com confirms that the photos are real, but shouldn’t cause any alarm. Agreeing with The Siberian Times’ assessment, Science Alert says the orbs were formed by “rocket exhaust”:
It’s thought that the Topol rocket was what produced the light orb that people saw, with the effect being a chance result produced by the plume of the missile’s exhaust coinciding with light from the Sun’s rays.
“In particular, the rocket exhaust expands in a big bubble tens to hundreds of miles across,” McDowell told National Geographic, “and if the sunlight catches it just right (because the Sun is below your horizon, but the rocket is high enough to be seeing the Sun) that bubble can be visible.”
In other words, if the missile tests had been conducted a couple of hours later, it’s possible the light orbs would never have been produced, because sunrays wouldn’t have struck the rocket exhaust, and far fewer people would have seen any evidence of the missile tests.
Was this ball of light really formed by a missile? Or is there a spookier explanation?
Let us know what you think, and sound off in the comments below.