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That boom you heard in Pittsburgh on New Year's Day? It was probably a meteor

A huge boom reverberated around suburban Pittsburgh on New Year's Day, rattling homes and confusing residents. Community members and officials were were stumped. There was no seismic activity, no thunderstorm or any obvious signs of a detonation.

On resident tweeted security footage of the boom.

The National Weather Service confirmed that satellite data recorded a flash over Washington County shortly before 11:30 a.m., but agreed there was no thunderstorm or earthquake. Finally they tweeted its theory: An exploding meteor.

Exploding meteors, also called airbursts, are a kind of cosmic traffic accident when a larger piece of space rock collides with the Earth's atmosphere and explodes. A major one took place almost a decade ago in Russia, shattering windows and knocking over buildings.

One thing is for sure, at least for residents in Pittsburgh: 2022 started off with a bang.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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Catherine Whelan