The meteorite trail seen over Perth, Australia
A burning trail lit up the sky over Western Australia for 20 minutes after an object suspected to be a meteorite plunged into the sea, leaving a burning orange trail that mesmerised local residents.

Beachgoers in Perth debated what could have caused the strange burning line in the sky, which persisted for 20 minutes. Most meteorite trails are only seen briefly - and seeing an object plunge into the sea is rare.

Local resident Gavin Trought captured a picture of the 'burning streak', saying, 'The weird streak in the sky seen from Cottesloe last night. I noticed it just before sunset.'

Meteorites are fragments of rock that land on Earth's surface. Those that burn up - 'ablate' - in Earth's atmosphere are referred to as meteors. Seeing such clear, fiery trails is rare.

Perth journalist Pip Moir posted a photo she took at Cottesloe Beach to Twitter shortly after 6pm as puzzled onlookers debated what caused the colourful phenomena.

Daniel Jongue, manager at Perth's The Naked Fig Cafe, said he saw 'something on the horizon'' just before sunset.

Jonque said that the fiery trail lasted for around 20 minutes.

'It looked like vapour. It was red, orange and yellow and quite beautiful,' he said.

Meteorites are fragments of rock and sometimes metal that survive the fall to Earth from space. Most are fragments left over from the collision of two asteroids.

Captured by Earth's gravitational force, they are accelerated to speeds of over 11.2 kilometres per second.

They can vary in size from a fraction of a millimetre to larger than a football pitch. It is believed a meteorite six miles across wiped out the dinosaurs 65million years ago.

Hundreds of meteorites fall to Earth each year but only a handful are recovered.