Amateur astronomer spots another Jupiter strike (w/ Video)

Jun 04, 2010
Image credit: Anthony Wesley

Jupiter has gotten whacked again.

An amateur astronomer in Australia peering at the giant Thursday reported witnessing a bright flash from an object hitting Jupiter and apparently burning up in the atmosphere.

"When I saw the flash, I couldn't believe it," said amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley. "The fireball lasted about 2 seconds and was very bright."

Wesley, a computer programmer with a good reputation among professional astronomers, alerted the cosmic collision to professional and amateur sky-gazers. The discovery was later confirmed by another amateur astronomer in the Philippines.

Wesley gained fame last year when he spotted a scar the size of the Pacific Ocean near Jupiter's south pole believed to have been caused by an asteroid smacking into the planet. Using an infrared telescope on Hawaii, scientists found evidence that Jupiter was apparently struck near its south pole, and credited Wesley.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Video of the impact by Chris Go (Phillipines)

The latest hit near the equator has not left any visible mark so far, but astronomers are on the lookout.

The absence of a detectable gash and the short impact time have led scientists to believe Jupiter was likely struck by a meteor.

"We've never seen a meteor slam into Jupiter," said Glenn Orton of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The latest collision should give astronomers a better idea of the size of debris floating in the .

In 1994, Jupiter was bombarded by pieces of the comet .

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
Video of the impact by Anthony Wesley.


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User comments : 12

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ECOnservative
5 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
It would seem that observing Jupiter more closely would give us a better idea of the number of impacts over time in the Solar System. NASA might consider an Earth-orbiting or other long-term observing platform.
fleem
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
FYI Anthony has a 13.1 inch Newtonian reflector. Here's Chris' site: http://jupiter.cstoneind.com
Nice videos!
fleem
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
... and Chris has a C11
yyz
2 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
The fact that two separate amateur astronomers saw the same ultrashort event (duration
yyz
1 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
akademy
2 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
This looks more like an explosion inside Jupiter, a lower layer looks like it brightens before the "surface" brightens.

I wonder if that's possible, anyone?

Jupiter must be full of volatile chemicals, and we know there are violent storms that could ignite the gas... though that suggests there is some mechanism to renew the chemicals...
antialias
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
Volatile in what context? If there was oxygen: Yes. But there isn't a lot of oxygen there so Jupiter isn't a 'volatile' mix.
CarolinaScotsman
5 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
Nice to know Jupiter is blocking for us.
akademy
not rated yet Jun 04, 2010
Sorry antialias, I meant volitiles in a much more generic sense. I was referring to chemicals that could feasibly ignite to produce the light from the video.

I guess meteors and comets are quite often dropping new chemicals into the mix. The random motions internally and Jupiters pressures must produce quite a reaction at times.
bottomlesssoul
5 / 5 (1) Jun 04, 2010
@akademy

During astronomical collisions atoms involved have much more combined gravitational potential than they do chemical energy... by far. This would even include the impossible condition of the impacter completely being made of an exotic molecule like C4.

The initial flash would have a blackbody spectrum whose temperature profile in time would show the rate of conversion of gravitational potential into heat. If the asteroid were further made of C4 the chemistry might add 5-10% to the signal in the real world though this would be practically zero. You would see the atmospheric chemistry effects later as it cooled.
barkster
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
@akademy

I would have thought the dimmer initial flash was from friction of the meteor's entry into the atmosphere prior to impact/explosion.
barkster
not rated yet Jun 06, 2010
then again... with a fireball that size, and the apparent penetration of the meteor well into the atmosphere...

How long would it take a fireball to rise from lower atmosphere to upper atmosphere? and how would that look from our point of view?