Three fiery objects seen by people from Peru to Brazil streaked through the sky on Jan. 27 before hitting the ground in Peru.
Video taken by residents shows what appears to be a fiery meteorite streaking through the sky.
Villagers in Larancahuani in the region of Puno, Peru, found an object that the Peruvian air force later said is a remnant of the fireball, reported AFP.
Romulo Barros, the chief of the fire service in the Brazilian municipality of Cruzeiro do Sul, confirmed there were no flights in the area during the objects’ descent, according to Metro.
The Peruvian Air Force said that the fireballs were likely the SL-23 rocket and its fuel tanks re-entering the atmosphere from space. The SL-23 was launched from Kazakhstan on Dec. 26, 2017, according to Aerospace.
Aerospace reported that “several fuel tanks were recovered by the Peruvian Air Force near the Puno region of Peru after they were notified by local residence [sic].”
It was initially speculated, based on the objects’ appearance as they traveled through the sky, that they were meteorites, but meteorologist Alejandro Fonesca from the Federal University of Acre in Brazil said that space junk can look similar when it comes back to Earth.
“When the debris enters the atmosphere it comes under intense friction and this causes it to set on fire. That is what could have happened,” he said, via Metro.
A meteorite struck Peru in 2007 after which about 30 people in the surrounding area got sick.
Researchers believe it was due to the meteorite sending a cloud of steam that was mixed with arsenic into the air, National Geographic reported. Arsenic is commonly found in the soil in that area. The meteorite was not found to be radioactive.