Both meteors and meteorites are formed from meteoroids, small particles from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun. This image shows the jet which narrowly missed the bright object
Extraordinary footage has captured the moment a mysterious bright object raced across the sky above Heathrow Airport, just seconds ahead of a landing plane.
Dramatic scenes show the rapidly moving flash of light descend toward houses below, before appearing to burn up moments before a huge jet comes into view.
It is not known whether the glowing streak was a meteor or the atmospheric entry of some other unknown item of space debris.
It is also unclear exactly how far away the 'shooting star' is and how near a miss aircraft overhead may have had.
Footage of the incident, which took place on Sunday, was shared by aviation website Airlive.
Their live cam, set up at the major international airport in the London borough of Hillingdon, captured the moment in detail.
In a tweet publicising the video, a spokesman for the firm described the object as a 'shooting star'.
Writing on the social media site, they said: 'Look at that amazing shooting star our cam just caught in the sky of Heathrow Airport!'
The most likely cause of the event is a meteor, according to one expert.
Speaking to MailOnline, Clemens Rumpf, a visiting fellow of the University of Southampton who specialises in studying space debris, said: 'My hunch is that this was a large meteor about one metre in diameter.
'These events occur harmlessly multiple times a year but can be spectacular when caught on camera.
'There was probably no immediate danger for any passenger aircraft as these objects tend to burn up, as seen in the footage, at altitudes of 20 to 45 miles (30 to 70 km), well above the flight level of planes.
'Larger objects are a concern for public safety as they release enough energy to cause damage on the ground, as with the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013.
When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporises, it creates a meteor, a light phenomenon more commonly known as a shooting star. This image shows the airliner coming into land seconds after the object appeared.
When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporises, it creates a meteor, a light phenomenon more commonly known as a shooting star. This image shows the jet illuminated above Heathrow.
Extraordinary footage has captured the moment a mysterious bright object (circled) raced across the sky above Heathrow Airport, just seconds ahead of a landing plane.
Nasa has once again been accused of covering up the existence of alien life, after an astronaut captured footage of a UFO. The mysterious object (circled) was spotted entering Earth's atmosphere by one of the crew of the International Space Station.
The footage has since been shared widely on Facebook and Twitter, but some disagree with the description given.
Twitter user Paul Mottershead said: 'That was no shooting star. More like a large meteorite.'
One tongue in cheek tweet by Marcin Kaczmarczyk even suggested alien involvement, by posting the theme tune to paranormal 90s sci-fi TV show The X Files.
Others commented on the apparent near miss by the approaching airliner.
Facebook user Nikolai Gibson said: 'I wouldn't like one of those to touch an aircraft.'
Both meteors and meteorites are formed from meteoroids, small particles from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun
When a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporises, it creates a meteor, a light phenomenon more commonly known as a shooting star.
A meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere and lands upon the Earth’s surface is called a meteorite.
Another explanation could be that the object was a piece of space debris falling to Earth.
More than 500,000 large pieces of man-made debris, or 'space junk', are tracked by Nasa as they travel at speeds up to 17,500 mph (28,000 kph).
Up to 150 million smaller untraceable objects are believed to be in orbit around the Earth.
This is not the first time in recent days that a mystery 'meteor' has hit the headlines.
Yesterday, Nasa was once again accused of covering up the existence of alien life, after an astronaut captured footage of a UFO.
Despite assurances from the space agency that it is just a meteor, conspiracy theorists remain convinced that it is evidence of extra terrestrials.
Italian astronaut Paolo Nespoli shot the clip, which shows a fiery ball of light racing towards the Earth's atmosphere.
The ISS crew member has said he believes that the object could be space debris, but both the space agency and alien enthusiasts have rejected this explanation.