The Indonesian volcano, Mount Merapi, has been the talk of the town after a series of photos have gone viral. In the images, it looks like a green laser is erupting from the massive peak. Experts, however, do believe that the sighting might have been a meteorite.
The photos were taken on 28 May 2021 by Indonesian photographer Gunarto Song. The photos soon went viral on social media and have now garnered more than 28,000 likes. The caption on the photos reads: "a meteor fell into the peak of Mount Merapi?"
However, according to the National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN), it is believed that the event of the strange green light stems from two meteor showers. One is the Eta Aqarid meteor shower, and the other is the Arietid meteor shower that happened during the time.
The Eta Aquarids meteor shower happened between 19 April and 28 May. The Arietids shower started on 14 May and will last through 24 June.
The green beam was captured in a still photograph and later confirmed by CCTV monitoring of the volcano by the Kalitengah Kidul Post.
LAPAN shared a statement on their website suggesting meteor activity. "So, from these two data sets, it can be assumed that the flash of greenish light that appears near Mount Merapi may be related to meteor shower activity."
The bright green hue could likely be explained by the level of magnesium in the space rock. LAPAN added that "Given that the light emitted is green, it is likely that the meteor that fell around Merapi was dominated by the element magnesium".
A piece of an asteroid or comet is also known as a meteoroid. Upon entering Earth's atmosphere, it turns into a meteor, fireball or shooting star. The pieces that reach the ground are known as meteorites.
Gunarto confirmed on CNN that he set the shutter speed of his camera at four seconds and hoped for the best. "Because I use a speed of 4 seconds, like it or not, the photo [of light] will be long. But the light is round light, hurry up, the round light keeps falling."
Indonesia sits on the "Ring of Fire", a tectonic plate in the Pacific Ocean that results in frequent seismic and volcanic activity.
It is known that Mount Merapi, which is on the border of Central Java and the Special Region of Yogyakarta, is one of the world's most active volcanoes. It has last erupted on 27 March 27, 2021, with previous eruptions happening twice in March 2020.