Watch A Mysterious Object Crash Into Jupiter

Tuesday, 29 March 2016 - 5:09PM
Astronomy
Solar System
Tuesday, 29 March 2016 - 5:09PM
Watch A Mysterious Object Crash Into Jupiter
A small object of unknown origin just crashed into Jupiter's atmosphere, and so far two astronomers have posted videos capturing the astronomical event:




The first video was taken on March 17 by Gerrit Kernbauer, an amateur astronomer in Mödling, Austria. He took hours of footage of the gas giant using a 20cm telescope, and while he was scouring through the footage, found a flash that looked very much like a meteor or similar object hitting Jupiter. One video could be a fluke, so another video capturing the impact at the same time was needed in order to virtually confirm the event. Luckily, the second video was taken by John McKeon on the same night, another amateur astronomer taking video just north of Dublin, Ireland. According to Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, these two videos constitute "very strong evidence for an actual impact."

The nature of the object is still unknown, but it is most likely an asteroid, meteor, or small comet. The flash was relatively brief, so the object was probably small, in the tens-of-meters range. But as we saw with the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts in 1994, which was a series of collisions after a large comet broke into many pieces in Jupiter's atmosphere, a small object moving at a high velocity can be seen from Earth. 

These collisions occur relatively often; an object big and/or fast enough to be seen from Earth probably hits Jupiter once per year. But before relatively recently, these impacts were simply missed by astronomers, since they occur within a few seconds when no one is looking. But now, with the advancement of technology and the increased interest in amateur astronomy, we may get to witness these astronomical events more than ever before.
Science
Space
Astronomy
Solar System

Load Comments