Explosion on Jupiter! Tuesday Update 10pm
September 11, 2012 Leave a comment
Here’s an update from spaceweather.com:
EXPLOSION ON JUPITER: Apparently, something hit Jupiter during the early hours of Sept. 10th (11:35 UT), igniting a ferocious fireball in the giant planet’s cloudtops. Amateur astronomer Dan Peterson Racine, Wisconsin, saw it first through his Meade 12″ LX200 telescope. “It was a bright white flash that lasted only 1.5 – 2 seconds,” he reports. Another amateur astronomer, George Hall of Dallas, Texas, was video-recording Jupiter at the time, and he confirmed the fireball with this video screenshot.
The fireball was probably caused by a small asteroid or comet hitting Jupiter. Similar impacts were observed in June and August 2010. An analysis of those earlier events suggests that Jupiter is frequently struck by 10 meter-class asteroids–one of the hazards of orbiting near the asteroid belt and having such a strong gravitational pull.
Astronomers around the world will now begin monitoring the impact site for signs of debris–either the cindery remains of the impactor or material dredged up from beneath Jupiter’s cloud tops. Some impacts do produce such debris, while others don’t. Researchers aren’t sure why; perhaps this event will provide some clues. Stay tuned for news about what happens next.
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