Tuesday November 14 a little after 1:40PM CT, people in a large area of Central Alabama reported a loud boom so loud houses were shaken and even a few windows were broken. As many news agencies have already reported, NASA has been unable to state affirmatively the source or cause for the concussive sound. Some have asked if this was a result of a UFO or perhaps a secret test military aircraft breaking sound barrier traveling at supersonic speed. Another solution was the possibility of the sound being caused from a meteor or bolide entering the atmosphere. 

No one has reported seeing anything at the time the sound was heard which is not surprising. This event occurred just after the
lunch hour when most everyone would have returned to work or into their homes.
 It is possible that NASA or NORAD / USNORTHCOM might be able to review data RADAR data showing something entering the atmosphere. Without witnesses outdoors observing the sky or NASA / USNORTHCOM being able to review RADAR data we are left to speculate on the possible origin of the sound.

WBRC FOX 6 News presented a map detailing the scope or area affected by the sonic boom. This graphic provides some details which may help us in our speculation of the sounds origin. The graphic depicts a probable direction of travel based on the shape of the area referenced. The area is narrow at the northwest or top left and appears to follow a path which widens slightly toward the southeast. The average width of the area enables us to make a presumption that the source of the sound was probably at high altitude. Lastly the length of the of the affected area tells us that the source cause for the sonic wave was most likely traveling at a very high speed. 

With this information we can make some educated speculation on the probable sources of the shock wave. First we will consider a possible military aircraft breaking the sound barrier. Anyone who lives near a military Air Force Base or Military Operations Area (MOA) has at one time or another experienced the shock of an aircraft flying at low altitude breaking the sound barrier of approximately 770 mph. These events can cause houses to shake and windows to rattle in their frames however the scope of area experiencing this effect will be limited to a narrow band equivalent to the width of a small neighborhood. In order for the shock wave to cause physical affects the aircraft must be traveling at relatively low altitude which will inherently limit the area affected. 

As an organization responsible for investigating reports of Unconventional Flying Objects or UFOs I would be remiss if I did not at least touch on the possibility. While we are unable to rule out a UFO as a possible solution historical investigations report these phenomena as being abnormally silent. While we are presently unable to state that this sound was not caused by a UFO we are able to say the more likely solution is likely more mundane in nature.

bolide image
NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day
The last solution to examine and a source of many erroneous reports of UFO is that of a meteor or bolide entering, or more accurately, colliding with the atmosphere. The term bolide which is possibly unfamiliar to many is a meteor that explodes in the atmosphere. Bolides can have many compositions ranging from rock (iron, copper, magnesium, etc.) to ice and even a combination of many materials in between. These fiery objects are sometimes observed traveling through the air in their fiery demise. Some display plumes of smoke and gasses or appear as brilliant bright balls of light moving across the sky. Others are such short lived and their composition so simple such as chunks of ice, they explode with concussive audible force but leave no visible signs that they ever existed. Knowing the scope of the area affected by the loud boom Tuesday and with the data we have available at the moment, we are comfortable stating that the most likely solution for this event is a bolide of possibly simple composition exploding in the a upper atmosphere.

If more information and data are provided by NASA we may have a confirmation on the source of the explosive sound or even possibly an alternate solution. This analysis of the data currently available to determine a probable or likely source for the disruptive noise is similar to the process we utilize for investigating UFO reports. You are invited to participate with us in the discussion of the UFO phenomena at our quarterly meetings which are open to the public. For schedule and information on attending these meetings, visit our website www.almufon.org and click the link Get Involved. Here you can also find information on how you can join us boots on the ground investigating the phenomena in real-time. We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting.

Email Facebook Twitter Google+ LinkedIn Digg StumbleUpon Tumblr