posted on Apr, 3 2014 @ 09:13 PM
Wouldn't something keep heating up as the air got denser, even as it slowed down some?
They do heat up as the air gets denser and if they
are big enough, they explode, but that happens at a pretty high altitude. Then the smaller pieces tend to slow down more quickly, and reach "terminal
velocity" which can make them warm but not really "burning" hot. Terminal velocity is what a skydiver experiences before his parachute opens, it's
more or less a constant speed.
I've seen meteorites coming in near me (maybe the sand-sized ones, hard to tell) and they seem to blaze all the way in.
If it's big
enough, and it didn't explode, it could happen, but I think it would be unusual. Meteor crater in Arizona was probably formed by an iron impactor
that blazed all the way in because it was probably dense enough to not explode in the atmosphere and it was still going pretty fast when it hit.
We have lots of video of impactors from security cams and they generally don't show them blazing all the way in...they reach a peak brightness at
some altitude and then explode or fade out.
You can even use an online program to see what altitude they are likely to explode at based on their size, density, velocity, angle of impact, etc:
I plugged in some numbers just for fun:
Distance from Impact: 100.00 meters ( = 328.00 feet )
Projectile diameter: 3.00 meters ( = 9.84 feet )
Projectile Density: 2000 kg/m3
Impact Velocity: 22.00 km per second ( = 13.70 miles per second )
Impact Angle: 45 degrees
Target Density: 1500 kg/m3
Target Type: Crystalline Rock ...
The projectile begins to breakup at an altitude of 69700 meters = 229000 ft
The projectile bursts into a cloud of fragments at an altitude of 50800 meters = 167000 ft
The residual velocity of the projectile fragments after the burst is 20 km/s = 12.4 miles/s
The energy of the airburst is 1.19 x 1012 Joules = 0.29 x 10-3 MegaTons.
No crater is formed, although large fragments may strike the surface.
In this example it is predicted to explode at an altitude of 51 km.
After it explodes the smaller fragments have a hard time maintaining their speed because they have so much surface area. Most of them probably won't
even make a crater when they hit the ground, they are going so slow, as shown at this impact site of fragments of a truck-sized meteor that exploded
at about 37 km altitude in 2008:
2008 TC3 meteorite fragments found on February 28, 2009 in the Nubian Desert, Sudan.
The photo suggests the fragments weren't going too fast when they hit, probably not fast enough to be ablating all the way down, though it's
possible they may have been warm. Similarly, if the skydiver captured a meteor fragment, it also didn't look too hot.