While imaginative children quickly dubbed it an alien invasion, the truth behind the mysterious glowing orb seen floating above a Siberian town on Thursday night has been revealed as something much more sinister.
Photographers and local residents set out in the Yamalo-Nenets region hoping to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis - but were left scratching their heads at what they found instead.
Photographer Sergey Anismov watched on in disbelief as a glowing ball rose from behind the trees.
While his best guess was a powerful searchlight in the sky, children who witnessed the remarkable light show were quick to devise their own theories.
"Kids walking in the yard began to tell me about an unusual phenomenon, using the words 'aliens', 'the portal to another dimension' and the like,” Anismov told The Siberian Times.
Another local said he was heading outside for a cigarette when he saw the orb.
“I thought it was the end of the world,” he wrote online.
In a disturbing twist, the glowing orb has since been revealed as not a “gap in the space time continuum”, but rather the by-product of Russian missile tests.
An update from the Russian defence ministry confirmed that they were firing a Topol intercontintental ballistic missile from Plesetsk and a several other ballistic missiles from two nuclear submarines.
"These were indeed missile tests," astrophysicist Jonathan McDowell from the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics told National Geographic.
"Four ballistic missiles were launched and at least one of them was widely observed. There is no doubt about the identification of these observations with the missile tests."
It’s thought the fumes from the Topol rocket combined with the sun’s rays to produce the light orb.
Footage of each launch, which can be seen below, has since emerged.