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Dejan Vinković

Science and Society Synergy Institute
Bana Jospia Jelacica 22B
40000 Cakovec, Croatia
e-mail: dejan_at_iszd.hr
High altitude meteors
Active Project
Latest update: March 12, 2006
Animation of a high altitude meteor based on Monte Carlo modeling (AVI, 8.1Mb)
High altitude meteors are meteors that become luminous at altitudes above ~130 km, where the standard ablation theory of meteor light production is not applicable. The physical mechanism responsible for their glow was a mystery. I developed a model that explained their existence, morphology and light-curves (Vinkovic 2007, Advances in Space Research, 39, 574).

The model is based on particles ejected from the meteoroid surface through the sputtering process. The kinetic energy of such a sputtered particle is typically more than 1,000 times larger than the energy of particles in the surrounding atmosphere. Therefore, the sputtered particle creates a cascade of collisions in the atmosphere during thermalization. I showed analytically that this process is capable of producing enough light for detection. In addition, I modeled them with a Monte Carlo code that I developed specifically for this phenomenon. Theoretical images reproduced the observed shapes and sizes of high altitude meteors. I am currently introducing the physics of oxygen excitation into the code in order to reproduce spectral signatures of those meteors.

Vinkovic D. 2007, Advances in Space Research, 39, 574 (ADS, PDF)

Theoretical images of a high altitude meteor.