Last month, Ethan Chappel an amateur astronomer had photographed the moment when a space rock smashed into Jupiter. The impact was big and it was visible all the way from the Earth. After over a month, the space scientists have finally unraveled the mystery over the space rock. According to them, the giant planet was hit by an asteroid which got detonated in the middle of the air.
Back on August 7, Chappel had pictured the moment when the space rock had slammed onto the giant planet. After this, he had shared the image on Twitter. With the help of open-source software called DeTeCt, he was able to analyse the flash caused by explosion.
— Chappel Astro (@ChappelAstro) August 7, 2019
The image had caught the eyes of many astronomers as it was considered a rare moment. Even though Jupiter is a giant planet having a much higher gravity, gets hit by many asteroids and comets, it is very rare to catch such an event all the way from Earth.
The asteroid is likely to have been about 39 feet to 52 feet in size and had a mass of about 450 tons according to the analysis done by Ramanakumar Sankar and Csaba Palotai of the Florida Institute of Technology.
Being relatively small, the asteroid did not reach the surface of Jupiter. In fact, it got exploded in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, approximately 80 kilometres above the clouds. The space researchers noted that the explosion produced energy which was equivalent to 240 kilotons of TNT, about half as strong as the meteor explosion in Russia’s Chelyabinsk back on February 15, 2013.
“Most of these objects hit Jupiter without being spotted by observers on Earth. However, we now estimate 20-60 similar objects impact with Jupiter each year. Because of Jupiter’s large size and gravitational field this impact rate is ten thousand times larger than the impact rate of similar objects on Earth,” Ricardo Hueso, the co-developer of DeTeCt software, said in a statement.
Hueso and his co-developer Marc Delcroix are hopeful that more amateur astronomers will use DeTeCt for analysing video observations of Jupiter and Saturn so that more of these impacts can be found and studied.
“The amateur community has been galvanized by this event and the number of observers and the volume of data being processed is increasing rapidly. DeTeCt is a fantastic showcase for pro-am collaboration.” Delcroix said.