A meteorite is being cited as a possible cause of a strange hole found in a car roof in Strasbourg.
It was found in a parked car after a loud ‘boom’ was heard in the area at around 7:00 on Monday (November 20) morning.
Emergency services have removed a small stone found inside the car to carry out tests to see if it came from space.
“We had heard a loud boom just before 7:00,” said neighbour Rachid on BFM Alsace. “At first I thought the bin men had dropped something or that it was military.”
Firemen arrived at the scene at 07:40 in response to a callout due to smoke coming out of the car.
“On arrival, we observed a relatively large impact on the car, of around 50cm in diameter, which goes through the roof, the interior and the vehicle’s reservoir,” Captain Matthieu Colobert told AFP.
Suspecting that the impact came from a meteorite, the emergency services searched for traces of radioactivity but none were found.
“We did not find the object [that made the hole]”, said Cpt Colobert.
“Either it is so tiny that we cannot find it, or the impact was such that the object disintegrated and turned to dust.
“We do have some suspicions about a piece of gravel.”
The piece of gravel, found in the vehicle’s reservoir, is around two centimetres wide and has been sent away for analysis.
“It’s around the size of a hazelnut, it’s very light, and looks like burnt wood,” said a police spokesman.
“Even a marble launched at high speed can cause damage. But we still need proof to say for sure that this is an object from space.”
‘Difficult to prove’
So far the hypothesis that a meteorite caused the hole has been met by scepticism.
Sky watching organisation Vigie Ciel said on X (formerly Twitter) that the appearance of the ‘piece of gravel’ does not “have the characteristics of a meteorite and its size does not match the hole in the roof.”
Bonjour Eric! Nous sommes contactés depuis ce matin pour donner notre avis sur cet événement. Nous ne voyons pas de météorite, on ne peut donc pas conclure ! Le caillou présenté ds le reportage n'a pas les bons critères et sa taille n'est pas compatible avec le trou du toit ♀️— Vigie-Ciel (@VigieCiel) November 20, 2023
France has a dedicated network of sky-watching cameras called the Fireball Recovery and InterPlanetary Observation Network, or FRIPON.
However, according to Barbara Gollian, Curator of mineralogy and petrology at the University of Strasbourg, these cameras detected nothing unusual on November 20.
“The object recovered in the car is one or two centimetres, and the ratio between this impactor and the damage visible on the car does not seem coherent,” she said.
“But the museum of mineralogy will be getting the object tomorrow (November 22) and I will be able to observe, describe and analyse it along with the research teams form the University of Strasbourg.”
The vehicle's owner, who was woken by the emergency services informing him of the catastrophic and inexplicable damage, told TF1 Info that his reaction was: “Eh ben merde.”