Feeds

Jupiter takes a serious knock

Object slams into gas giant

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

Astronomers using the Keck Observatory in Hawaii have captured the aftermath of an object slamming into Jupiter - material thrown up into the atmosphere by the impact and posing for the camera in the infrared:

Keck II infred image of the impact site. Pic: Paul Kalas (UCB), Michael Fitzgerald (LLNL/UCB), Franck Marchis (SETI Institute/UCB), James Graham (UCB)

The event was spotted by amateur OZ astronomer Anthony Wesley in Murrumbateman at around 13:30 GMT on Sunday, New Scientist explains. He spread word of his discovery via email, and US scientists - including Paul Kalas of the University of California Berkeley, Michael Fitzgerald of Lawrence Livermore National Lab and UCLA, and Glenn Orton of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab - soon got wind of it.

They "happened to have observing time on the Keck II telescope" and were able to confirm Wesley's observation - the first such event seen since 20 pieces of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter 15 years ago.

Supporting evidence for the impact theory comes in the form of "a bright spot where the impact took place, meaning the impact warmed up the lower atmosphere in that area" and "hints of higher-than-normal amounts of ammonia in the upper atmosphere", something which was also thrown up by the Shoemaker-Levy comet event.

As to what exactly might have crashed into Jupiter, Orton admitted to New Scientist he didn't have a clue, although he suggested it could have been "a block of ice from somewhere in Jupiter's neighborhood, or a wandering comet that was too faint for astronomers to detect before the impact". ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.