The gas giant planet Jupiter, which is roughly 300 times as big as Earth, is frequently filmed by amateur astronomers in order to monitor activities on the famous planet. A space asteroid colliding with Jupiter was recorded on camera in 2021, and now a Japanese astronomer has photographed another fascinating explosion in the Jovian sky.
The incident occurred on August 29 and was reported by the account MASA Planetary Log on X (formerly known as Twitter). Below, you can see the dazzling flash.
What took place? A few dozen yards across, possibly, fragment of an asteroid, comet, or both struck Jupiter. It smacked with air molecules as it flew through the planet’s high sky, quickly creating friction and heating up.
“It just melts and explodes,” said Peter Vere, an astronomer at the Centre for Astrophysics-Harvard & Smithsonian, a joint research project between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory, to Mashable. He said, “It’s pretty much a fireball,” alluding to the meteors that erupt in the Earth’s atmosphere.
This was a rather minor impact event for Jupiter, which is 11 times wider than our planet. Large impacts, such as that caused by Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1994, created black splotches on the surface of Jupiter, one of which was the size of the Earth.
This most recent occurrence simply resulted in a brief flash of light. Though vibrant. Our solar system’s history is one of collisions. And it should come as no surprise that large things frequently collide with enormous Jupiter. It has almost 100 known moons and draws objects. Jupiter is sometimes referred to be the solar system’s equivalent of a big hoover, Vere said.
Even yet, these impacts were much less severe. About 100 tonnes of dust and sand-sized particles fall through Earth’s atmosphere every single day, where they immediately burn up. According to NASA, a “automobile-sized asteroid” typically flies across our sky each year before exploding. Every 10,000 to 20,000 years, items with a 460-foot diameter or greater make impacts; over durations of 100 million years or more, a rock with a half-mile or larger cross-section would make a “dinosaur-killing” impact. (In the future, scientists aim to deflect a massive rock if it resurfaces.)
Expect to see more images of asteroids striking Jupiter. Some amateur astronomers stay vigil throughout the night (this watching is frequently automated), but most professional, massive telescopes (which dedicate expensive telescope working hours to peering into the deep, deep cosmos) do not dwell on the big planet so near to home. It produces breathtaking footage and deepens our knowledge of the universe.
Vere replied, “Amateurs all over the world can just point and watch.” That’s a really good benefit.