- Written by Megan
On Monday night, an object smashed into Jupiter in spectacular fashion. And an amateur astronomer captured the whole thing.
George Hall recorded the flash which scientists believe was a comet or an asteroid vapourising in the atmosphere of the Gas giant. And now scientists are turning their telescopes to Jupiter in order to observe the aftermath.
The Slooh space camera project will be focusing on Jupiter for the rest of the week and streaming live images so that we can all look for a scar in the atmosphere. Being a gas giant it is incredibly difficult to 'scar' the turbulent gasses, however it has happened with very large impacts such as the Shoemaker-Levy impact of 1994.
Studying the aftermath will give us a better idea of exactly what hit Jupiter, and how large it was. This is particularly important since the object was not being tracked and had not been noticed prior to the impact.
Jupiter is considered by many to be a space rock vacuum cleaner. Being the most massive of the solar system's planets it has a huge amount of gravity. This allows it to 'capture' comets and asteroids into its orbit and, to an extent, shield the inner planets from impact.
This impact event is a shining example of what amateur astronomers can achieve, discover and contribute to the space community. So why not grab a pair of binoculars and have a look at the night sky for yourselves!