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CosmosUp | May 19, 2019

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Did Asteroid Hit Jupiter? Or Comet?

By | On + -

On Mar 17 it was rumored that amateur astronomers looking at Jupiter that night saw a brief flash of light on the surface of the gas giant.

Some amateur’ videos came out this week showing a bright flash on the edge of Jupiter’ disk near the boundary of the planet’s bright equatorial zone and in North equatorial belt. Those who need them, the system coordinates of the impact site are 281.1° in longitude and +12.4° in latitude.

Gerrit Kernbauer, an Austrian astronomer, wrote that:

I was observing and filming Jupiter with my Skywatcher Newton 200/1000 telescope when I saw the impact. The quality was not the best, so I hesitated to process the videos,

he writes on YouTube.

Nevertheless, 10 days later I looked through the videos and found this straight light spot that appeared for less than one second on the edge of the planetary disc.

Here some frames from one of the videos:


 

  You can see Ganymede, Io and Europa in the frame along with the bright flash. The raw frames from the two videos were given to planetary imaging specialist Marc Delcroix who process them and found that the flash lasted a little over 1 second and while the two videos seemed offset by about nine seconds and marking the event appears to be real. So whatever this was an asteroid or comet or whatever… it was very small and there was no debries associated with the event.

Apparently someone asked and the mission managers of the Hubble Space Telescope decided not to slewing Jupiter to take a closer look.

At first, there was some speculation that this flash was linked to Jupiter’s close-in moon Amalthea which was positioned very close to the flash when it occurred. but astronomers ruled out this possibility.

So if this holds up and this turns out to be a real impact then it becomes the fifth such event in the past decade. The largest of these have heapeand on July 19 2009 and it left a distinctly dark “powder burn” in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere – first spotted by Australian amateur Anthony Wesley and that was followed by three strikes recorded by amateur astronomers from 2010 through 2012.

By observing collisions on Jupiter, amateur astronomers opened a new door of knowledge about our solar system — a door we didn’t even know existed a few years ago,

astronomer Ricardo Hueso Alonso said.

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