A mysterious object collided with Jupiter this week, triggering a bright flash of light captured by amateur astronomers 382.76 million miles away on Earth.
German astronomer Harald Paleske was watching the shadow of Jupiter’s moon, Io, which was creating a solar eclipse in the atmosphere of the planet, Jupiter, when he saw the likely impact.
“A bright flash of light surprised me,” he said space weather. “It can only be an impact.”
If confirmed, this event would be just the eighth recorded impact on the gas giant — the first being identified in 1994.
After seeing the bright flash, Paleske said he looked at each frame in hopes of determining what caused the light.
He found that the flash was in Jupiter’s atmosphere and remained visible for two seconds — to rule out interference on Earth or any satellite hovering over the planet.
Scroll down for video
German astronomer Harald Paleske looked at the shadow of Jupiter’s moon, Io (left circle), which created a solar eclipse in the atmosphere of the planet Jupiter when he saw the likely impact
Jupiter is hit by dozens, maybe even hundreds of asteroids every year, as the giant planet acts as a blockade to prevent such objects from hitting the Earth.
However, capturing such an event is very rare.
Another amateur astronomer in Brazil also documented the event.
José Luis Pereira set up his equipment on September 12 in São Caetano do Sul, in the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo, and aimed the equipment at Jupiter.
“To my surprise, I noticed a different glow on the planet in the first video, but I didn’t pay much attention to it because I thought it had something to do with the parameters being adopted, and I continued to watch normally,” Pereira said. . in an email to space.com.
“In order not to stop the ongoing shooting for fear that the weather would worsen, I did not watch the first video.”
A new impact flash has been discovered on Jupiter by Brazilian observer Jose Luis Pereira – the flash occurred on September 13, 22:39:30 UTC. It looks quite bright. Follow-up images of this region are useful for seeing if there is a dark scar left after the event. pic.twitter.com/LL9rDGvodm
— Damian Peach (@peachastro) September 14, 2021
José Luis Pereira set up his equipment on September 12 in São Caetano do Sul, in the southeastern Brazilian state of São Paulo, and aimed the equipment at Jupiter. He then sent the information to Marc Delcroix of the French Astronomical Society, who confirmed that the event seen in the images has an impact. And it happened on Monday at 6:39 PM EDT
“I didn’t check the result until the morning of the 14th, when the program warned me of the high probability of impact and confirmed that there was indeed a record in the first video of the night,” wrote Pereira.
He then sent the information to Marc Delcroix of the French Astronomical Society, who confirmed that the event seen in the images has an impact.
And it happened on Monday at 6:39 PM EDT.
The first recorded impact on Jupiter was Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL9), which struck in July 1994.
Jupiter is a focus of many amateur skygazers and professional astronomers, all hoping to uncover the mysteries of the gas giant.
Last month, scientists at the University of Leicester, along with NASA, created heat maps of Jupiter and found that intense auroras are driving the extreme temperatures, despite only covering less than 10 percent of the planet.
The team tried to understand how a planet this far from the sun should be about 163 degrees Fahrenheit, while the gas giant’s atmosphere is 798 degrees Fahrenheit.
They found that charged particles escaping from Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io are captured by the planet’s magnetic field, which in turn produces ultraviolet auroras.
Last month, scientists at the University of Leicester, along with NASA, created heat maps of Jupiter and found that intense auroras are causing the extreme temperatures, despite covering only less than 10 percent of the planet.
Models of the atmospheres of gas giants suggest that the auroras act like a giant refrigerator, with heat energy drawn from the equator to the pole and released into the lower atmosphere in all polar regions.
These new findings suggest that rapidly changing aurorae waves of energy may drift against this poleward current, allowing heat to reach the equator.
dr. James O’Donoghue, a researcher at the Japanese space agency JAXA and the study’s lead author, said in a statement: “We first started trying to create a global heat map of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere at the University of Leicester.
“The signal wasn’t clear enough at the time to reveal anything beyond Jupiter’s polar regions, but with the lessons we learned from that work, a few years later we managed to gain time on one of the largest, most competitive telescopes on Earth.
They found that charged particles escaping from Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io are trapped by the planet’s magnetic field, which in turn produces ultraviolet auroras.
‘We made temperature maps of extraordinary detail with the Keck telescope. We found that temperatures inside the aurora start out very high, as we expected based on previous work, but now we could see that the aurora of Jupiter, despite occupying less than 10% of the planet’s surface, the whole thing seems to be heating up.’
Earth has similar light shows, known as the Aurora Borealis and Australis (or more commonly known as the Northern and Southern lights), which arise when ions from solar winds collide with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere.
However, Jupiter’s cosmic event is fueled by its volcanic moon, Io, and produces the most powerful aurora in the solar system.