Jupiter impact continues to impress

The latest images of Jupiter's new feature reveal more details about the impact.
By | Published: July 27, 2009
Infrared image of Jupiter impact site
An infrared image of Jupiter, taken by the Keck II Telescope shows how the diameter of the impact site compares with the size of Earth.
P. Kalas (UCB), M. Fitzgerald (LLNL/UCLA), F. Marchis (SETI Institute/UCB), J. Graham (UCB)
July 27, 2009
New pictures of Jupiter and its recent impact site keep pouring in, showing the rapidly growing atmospheric aftermath in increasingly greater detail. First discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley on July 19, the Pacific Ocean-sized black spot is likely the result of a collision with an asteroid or comet.

The W. M. Keck Observatory, located on Hawaii’s Mauna Kea volcano, confirmed the impact last week with a set of infrared images. Astronomers there plan to test theories developed 15 years ago during Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9’s impact with the gas giant, the only other planetary collision ever witnessed.

Hubble Space Telescope captures Jupiter impact site in natural color
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of Jupiter and its impact site seen in natural color.
NASA, ESA, and H. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), and the Jupiter Impact Team
Later in the week, the Hubble Space Telescope’s newest camera captured the sharpest visible-light picture to date of Jupiter’s latest feature. Not only did the image provide greater detail on the impact itself, but also it proved astronauts successfully serviced the telescope in May.

Operators of the Keck and Hubble telescopes originally scheduled other work for the week but decided to postpone their plans to better study the unfolding events on Jupiter. They join a multitude of amateur and professional astronomers across the world now training their eyepieces on the planet’s constantly changing spot.

NASA scientists estimate the colliding object was several hundreds of yards across and the force of its impact to have been thousands of times greater than the explosion in 1908 over the Siberian Tunguska River Valley.

Related blogs: