London, Dec 11: A Harvard astrophysicist who monitors space launches has exposed the mystery behind the now famous 'Norwat Spiral UFO'.
The glowing white spiral that appeared in the skies above Norway was the result of a failed test launch of a jinxed new Russian missile, Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, adding that it was an out-of control missile.
"It consisted initially of a green beam of light similar in colour to the aurora with a mysterious rotating spiral at one end," eye witness Nick Banbury of Harstad said, according to Spaceweather.com.
"This spiral then got bigger and bigger until it turned into a huge halo in the sky with the green beam extending down to Earth," Banbury added.
Previously, it was being speculated that it was a bright meteor but the rumour was quickly dismissed - in part because the apparition lasted for too long to be an incoming space rock.
"It's definitely a missile launch failure," New Scientist quoted the astrophysicist as saying.
McDowell said it was a failed test of Russia's submarine-launched Bulava ballistic missile, which is intended to be able to evade missile-defence systems.
"We know that the Russian Navy submarine Dmitry Donskoy is in the White Sea and was preparing for the 12th test launch of the Bulava missile, which has had numerous failures," he said.
Out of the missile's 11 previous launches since 2005, six have been failures, a track record that might explain why Russia has reportedly denied a Wednesday launch, McDowell said.
"This could be because another Bulava failure is a huge and embarrassing setback for their programme," McDowell added.