A SERIES of bright flashes spotted on the moon have been explained as mini explosions from fist-sized meteorites smashing into the lunar surface at almost 3000 mph.
The lights, which can be seen from earth, had baffled astronomers for years as the moon has no atmosphere for meteors to burn up in. Some had even blamed them on satellite interference.
In times of high meteor activity, such as the Leonids meteor shower in November 2011 as many as 20 rocks can hit the moon in one night.
But new observations reveal the flashes result from superhot material kicked up by the tiny objects striking the moon’s surface. Sylvain Bouley, a planetary scientist at the Paris Observatory, said: “You have just a small piece of cometary material or asteroid, about 10cms, that can create a very bright flash visible from the Earth.”
The full study will be published in Icarus the official publication of American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences.