Jupiter Got Smashed By A Large Object

Posted: Mar 29 2016, 11:44pm CDT | by , Updated: Mar 31 2016, 11:27pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News


Jupiter Got Smashed by a Large Object
The impact of the collision on Jupiter can be seen in this image. Credit: John McKeon

Amateur Astronomers Capture Video of giant cosmic rock Crashing into Jupiter.

It appears that the largest planet in our solar system just got smacked by an asteroid or comet and surprisingly the event is captured by more than one stargazer from two different locations. 

These amateur scientists have generated a lot of buzz when they shared their respective videos of a mystery object making an explosive contact with the planet.

Gerrit Kernbauer, a stargazer from Austria filmed the unexpected collision on March 17 when he was observing planet Jupiter with his 20cm telescope. But he did not process the video for several days as the view was not too clear. When he finally did, he noticed a strange light spot on the edge of the planetary disc which lasted less than one second. 

“My only explanation for this is an asteroid or comet that enters Jupiter’s high atmosphere and burned up/explode very fast.” Kernbauer wrote in the post.p>

On that same night, another amateur astronomer John McKeon from Ireland was also gazing at gas giant with the help of 1-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope. He was actually recording the transit of Jupiter’s moons Io and Ganymede when he saw a cosmic rock slamming into the right side of the giant planet. 

“This is the time-lapse of processed images leading to the impact on Jupiter on March 17. The original purpose of the imaging session was to get this time-lapse, with a happy coincidence of the impact in the second last capture of the night.” McKeon said.

This is not the first time when Jupiter is hit by a large object. These incidents have taken place many times in the past. The most popular was in July 1994 when the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into the planet and left dark spots on its atmosphere which were visible for several months even with small telescopes on Earth. 

In July 2009, a dark spot was noticed in Jupiter’s southern pole, which was the result of an impact. That was followed by lesser strikes in June 2010, August 2010 and September 2012.

But the question is why Jupiter gets hit a lot. Astronomy blogger Phil Plait from Slate says.

“On average and (ignoring orbital velocity), an object will hit Jupiter with roughly five times the velocity it hits Earth. so the impact energy is 25 times as high.”

He added. “Jupiter has always been getting hit, but the uptick in detections is because our technology is getting better and less expensive.”

It is not yet clear what exactly hit Jupiter. But there are greater chances that the object could be an asteroid rather than comet. Veteran astronomers are further analyzing videos to determine the culprit.

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.




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