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jupiter flash

Astronomers reveal the mystery about the asteroid which smashed into Jupiter

On August 7, 2019, a large space rock slammed through Jupiter. It was a rare flash of light and was bright enough to be detected through telescopes. Texas-based astronomer Ethan Chappel detected it.

The cause of this smash was a tiny asteroid, which had a density consistent with that of meteors that are equal components of stone and iron, according to a new evaluation.

The meteor exploded in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, about 80 kilometres above the cloud, releasing energy equal to 240 kilotons of TNT-just over half of the power from the meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk in 2013.


According to an evaluation performed by Ramanakumar Sankar and Csaba Palotai of the Florida Institute of Technology, the impactor was probably 39 feet to 52 feet (12 to 16 meters) broad, with a mass of about 408 metric tons (450 tons).

Ricardo Hueso, who is a researcher at the University of the Basque Country, also analyzed the data of the impact event and arrived at similar conclusions about the size and mass of the asteroid. Hueso remarked that since 2010, the August incident was probably the second brightest of the six Jupiter effects that were observed.

“Many of these objects hit Jupiter without being spotted by observers on Earth,” Hueso reported in a statement. “However, we now estimate 20-60 similar objects and their impact with Jupiter each year. Because of Jupiter’s large size and gravitational field, this impact rate is 10,000 times larger than the impact rate of similar objects that hit Earth.”

The new studies were aided by an open-source software program called DeTeCt, which was explicitly designed to identify impacts on Jupiter. DeTeCt was developed by Hueso and French amateur astronomer Marc Delcroix.

Ethan Chappel used DeTeCt to analyze the flash. He then contacted Delcroix and Hueso, who reached out to their connections in the amateur astronomy community to see if anyone else had observed the impact.

“This event has galvanized the amateur community, and the number of observers and the volume of data being prepared is increasing rapidly,” Delcroix said in the same statement. “DeTeCt is a fantastic showcase for professional-amateur collaboration.”

The new results about the 7th August impact were conferred on Monday, September 16 at a joint meeting of the European Planetary Science Congress and the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences in Geneva.

About the author: Gayathry
Gayathry is a second-year computer science undergraduate from the University of Hyderabad. With various fields of interest from cosmology, neuroscience to neurorobotics, she's also passionate about entrepreneurship.

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