Wednesday 22nd October 2014,
PalScience

A comet or meteoroid hits Jupiter

Qossay Takroori 2009/07/22

We wouldn’t be living here now without our savior Jupiter; it acts as a shield on our planet earth and protects it from comets impacts and other unknown objects like the one back in 1994 and the impact that happened last Sunday 2009.

We have to be thankful for Jupiter for saving our planet from these unknown objects that coming from outer space “The solar system would have been a very dangerous place if we did not have Jupiter”. Scientists say. Look at the distance between the Earth and Jupiter and notice the size also.

NASA just announced that the object might be comet or meteoroid, and obviously the collision was huge leaving a hole the size of the Pacific Ocean. The impact happened exactly last Sunday July 18, 2009 in the southern hemisphere of the planet.

The scary thing about this impact is that scientists even though they are monitoring our solar system and space carefully, they didn’t spot the impact. Or let’s say they didn’t see anything hitting Jupiter, it just happened suddenly without any previous information about it.

The first scientist to capture the spot was Mr. Anthony Wesley, he said on his blog, “I was pleasantly surprised to find reasonable imaging conditions and so I decided to continue recording data until maybe 1am local time. By about midnight (12:10 am) the seeing had deteriorated and I was ready to quit. Indeed I had hovered the mouse over the exit button on my capture application (Coriander for Linux) and then changed my mind and decided instead to simply take a break for 30 minutes and then check back to see if the conditions had improved. It was a very near thing.

A comet or meteoroid hits Jupiter

Image captured by Anthony Wesley on 19th July 2009 at 1554UTC from Murrumbateman Australia

When I came back to the scope at about 12:40am I noticed a dark spot rotating into view in Jupiter’s south polar region started to get curious. When first seen close to the limb (and in poor conditions) it was only a vaguely dark spot, I thought likely to be just a normal dark polar storm. However as it rotated further into view, and the conditions improved I suddenly realised that it wasn’t just dark, it was black in all channels, meaning it was truly a black spot.

A comet or meteoroid hits Jupiter

One of the last images from this session, this image has been more carefully processed to avoid artifacts by using 3x upsampling on the data before alignment and stacking.

My next thought was that it must be either a dark moon (like Callisto) or a moon shadow, but it was in the wrong place and the wrong size. Also I’d noticed it was moving too slow to be a moon or shadow. As far as I could see it was rotating in sync with a nearby white oval storm that I was very familiar with – this could only mean that the back feature was at the cloud level and not a projected shadow from a moon. I started to get excited.

It took another 15 minutes to really believe that I was seeing something new – I’d imaged that exact region only 2 days earlier and checking back to that image showed no sign of any anomalous black spot.

Now I was caught between a rock and a hard place – I wanted to keep imaging but also I was aware of the importance of alerting others to this possible new event. Could it actually be an impact mark on Jupiter? I had no real idea, and the odds on that happening were so small as to be laughable, but I was really struggling to see any other possibility given the location of the mark. If it really was an impact mark then I had to start telling people, and quickly. In the end I imaged for another 30 minutes only because the conditions were slowly improving and each capture was giving a slightly better image than the last.

Eventually I stopped imaging and went up to the house to start emailing people, with this image above processed as quick and dirty as possible just to have something to show.

Resources – ABC News - WIKIPEDIAAssociated content - NYT - Samba.org

About The Author

Hi, I am Qossay Takroori the Founder and Chief editor of Palscience. I enjoy tasting authentic foods, swimming and engaging in constructive conversations. I like meeting people from all over the world so please don't hesitate to drop me a comment or email if you want to chat.