Collision with Jupiter

jupiter John Mckeon

At 00:18:45 UT March 17, 2016, reports had come from amateur astronomers claiming they just witnessed something crash into the planet Jupiter. The object, most likely an asteroid or a comet, was viewed as a white flash of light on the right side of the planet. There has been only a small handful, possible just 6, recorded events of objects crashing into the Gas Giant, making this a very impressive discovery.

Astronomer, John McKeon from Ireland, recorded the event and uploaded the video for all to see.

The flash most likely hints towards an impact, but as of yet there has been no confirmation as of yet.

Phil Plait, an astronomer who runs the “Bad Astronomy” blog for Slate.com, comments that he believes the object to be around 33 feet across. While this isn’t huge for an asteroid or a comet, an object hurling towards Jupiter will gain 5 times the velocity as it would towards the Earth. Plait reminds us of an asteroid which hit Chelyabinsk, Russia a few years ago that was 19 meters across and exploded with the force of 500,000 tons of TNT.

“Now multiply that by 25, and you can see how it doesn’t take all that big a rock to hit Jupiter for us to be able to see it (Plait, P. 2016).”

But how do we know this is actually a collision we are looking at and not just a glare across the telescopic lens? Great question! One answered when a second astronomer, Gerrit Kernbauer from Austria, uploaded his own video showing the exact same flash!

While all the evidence strongly suggests it was an impact, we are still waiting for exact confirmation to be 100% sure. You can see more details by checking out Phil’s blog.

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