Chris McKitterick (mckitterick) wrote,
Chris McKitterick

Astro-Porn of the Day: Jupiter Goes BOOM.

Yesterday, Jupiter took one for the team:

Click the image to see the i09 article. I love their "Jupiter saved us!" angle.

Amateur astronomers witnessed the event, and George Hall of Dallas, Texas, even filmed it (the above gif-enated shot is a still from his recording). The light from the explosion lasted between two and four seconds; Dan Petersen described it as "a bright white, two-second-long explosion just inside Jupiter's eastern limb... about 100 miles in diameter."

What smashed into ol' Jove was probably a small asteroid or a comet, similar to previously observed impacts. The best-known Jupiter impacts were when fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter in 1994 and then 2009, leaving behind multiple atmospheric scars visible for weeks to anyone with a medium-sized telescope. Here's a mark from the July 2009 impact:

Click the image to see the NASA site.

Will this impact produce such lingering scars? Time will tell. If you have a telescope, get out there and look! Jupiter is the mega-bright object that dominates the post-midnight sky, standing nearly overhead in the wee hours of the morning.

Tags: astronomy

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