Video spectra of Leonid meteors

This page shows an example of a Leonid meteor spectrum obtained during the Leonid Multi-Instrument Aircraft Campaign. Leonid spectra were observed with an image intesified video camera equipped with a spectral grating. As a result, almost 150 slitless spectra of meteors (including sporadics) have been obtained and are currently being analyzed. A list of detected meteors is available.

The spectrum shown here (SZ 147) belongs to a late Leonid observed on November 19, 15:17:40 UT. This spectrum was selected because is instructive and the meteor was seen visually, so we know that it was of about +1 visual magnitude.

The left picture below represents a still frame from the video record. The meteor travelled some distance during the 0.04 sec effective exposure time. The oxygen green line is present behind the meteor head. The right picture identifies some zero order images and spectra in the field. Note that the Orion nebula shows emission line spectrum like the meteor (but the lines are different).


The plot below represents an uncalibrated scan of the meteor spectrum with prominent lines and bands identified. Some lines belong to the meteoroid vapors, some were produced by the heated atmosphere.


A careful examination of all spectra combined with the analysis of the data from other instruments aboard the airplanes will provide information on compositional and structural properties of Leonid meteoroids and about the degree of their homogeneity.

The first scientific results have been summarized in a manuscript submited to the journal Meteoritics & Planatery Science.

Jiri Borovicka, Ondrejov Observatory
November 27, 1998 ; updated May 24, 1999