Watch an asteroid or comet crash into the gas giant Jupiter

Contributed by
Mar 29, 2016

When cosmic bodies accidentally bump into each other in outer space, the results are usually spectacular!

Check out this video of a comet or asteroid smashing into the right limb of Jupiter, taken by amateur astronomer Gerrit Kernbauer in Australia on March 17.  His 20 cm telescope was set to record video for frame isolation when it captured what appears to be the impact of a small comet or asteroid with Jupiter.  A second video recorded the same day in Ireland by John McKeon, with a 28 cm telescope in Swords, just north of Dublin, confirms the timing of the explosive event seen in the first video. 

"On 17.03.2016 i was observing and filming Jupiter with my Skywatcher Newton 200/1000 Telescope," reported Kernbauer. "The seeing was not the best, so i hesitated to process the Videos. Nevertheless 10 days later i looked through the Videos and i found this strange light spot that appeared for less than one second on the edge of the planetary disc. Thinking back to Shoemaker-Levy 9, my only explanation for this is an asteroid or comet that enters Jupiters high atmosphere and burned up/explode very fast."

With Jupiter's fierce gravitational tug, objects collide with it at five times the velocity of heavenly bodies striking the Earth, manifesting an impact energy 25 times greater.  Scientists speculate that the object hitting Jupiter was small, probably only 100-200 feet in diameter, but as you can see, it still packs a pretty mean punch!


(Via Gizmodo)