Time Resolved Spectroscopy of a Leonid Fireball Afterglow

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Two video spectra of a meteoric afterglow were obtained for the first time during the 1999 Leonid aircraft campaign. The train was produced by a −13 magnitude Leonid fireball at a relatively low height between 91-75 km. The meteor spectrum has a strong hydrogen emission, proportional to 10–20 II atoms per one Fe atom The train spectrum consisted of a red continuum, yellow continuum, and about 50 atomic lines between 3700–9000 Å. The yellow continuum, possibly due to NO2, was also detected in the persistent train. The red continuum is interpreted as a thermal radiation of dust from meteoric debris at about 1400 K. Evidence for secondary ablation is found in the afterglow. The atomic lines decayed within seconds of the meteor. The lines of Fe I, Mg I, Na I, Ca I, Ca II, Cr I, Mn I, K I, and possibly Al I were present in the glow together with the 5577 Å forbidden O I line. The gas temperature in the train was close to 5000 K at the beginning and decayed to 1200 K within two seconds. However, thermal equilibrium was not satisfied for all populated levels.

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