An artist's conception of fiery meteors descending

Meteoroids are debris from earlier eras in our solar system. They can be leftovers from planets that never formed or remains of ancient collisions. When these bits rock and metal enter our atmosphere, they become meteors. Since they travel at speeds of several kilometers per second, they create incredibly strong shock waves off their bow once they’re in the atmosphere. These shock waves are so strong that they rip the air molecules apart and create a hot plasma that can scorch the outside of the meteor. That plasma also glows, which is why meteors look like a streak of light from the ground. Any remains that make it to the ground are known as meteorites, and they have some pretty awesome features. Check out the full Brain Scoop episode below to learn some of the typical (and not so typical!) characteristics of meteorites. (Image and video credit: The Brain Scoop/Field Museum)

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