What makes a meteor luminous?
Through ages of time, a meteor is a lump of cold, dead matter, traveling the spaceways of the solar systen. Its speed may be 20 miles or more a second., and the sparse particles of interstellar plasma do little or nothing to slow it down. Then it collides with our giant planet, and things change. The speeding space traveler strikes Our upper atmosphere. This air may seem thin to us, but to the meteor it seems like a dense barrier. The speeder is slowed down. Collisions with air molecules cause friction, and friction causes heat. The falling meteor is like a match .striking the rough side of a matchbox. It becomes hot enough to glow and burn, and we See this luminous light tumbling toward the earth.