‘Explosion’ on Jupiter: Did the Planet Take a Hit for Earth?

An amateur astronomer's discovery sheds light on Jupiter's role as a magnet for asteroids that have the potential to stray towards our planet.

  • Share
  • Read Later
George Hall

Maybe we should all take a moment and thank Jupiter, since the planet is apparently taking a pummeling on our behalf.

Astronomers are checking their telescopes for records of a brief, brilliant flash of light on Jupiter, which they believe was a heavy-duty asteroid striking the gas giant.

(MORE: Dawn Craft to Depart Asteroid for Dwarf Planet)

After an impact in the early hours of Sept. 10 was spotted by an amateur astronomer in Oregon and reported on various astronomy forums, another stargazer from Dallas checked his recordings and found signs of an explosion lasting a couple of seconds—prompting other researchers to start investigating possible scars on the top layers of the planet’s gaseous surface for signs of the impact.

Jupiter’s extra-strong gravitational pull and its location near the Asteroid Belt means it’s suffered  its fair share of impacts — several similar ones, by objects estimated at 10 meters across, have been recorded since 2009.  The latest is an opportunity to study not only frequency with which Jupiter gets struck by small to medium-sized objects but also how it helps shield all of us here on Earth: the planet’s strong gravitational pull grabs passing asteroids and comets and pulls them in — and away from us. At the size of a school bus, an asteroid that size striking the Earth would release as much energy as the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, although as scientists remarked during the study of one near-miss last year, it would also likely vaporize on contact with the atmosphere. While it’s impossible to tell at this point whether the object that struck Jupiter was on a collision course with Earth, researchers now believe that Jupiter is struck by similar-sized rocks on a regular basis.

“It’s kind of a scary proposition to see how often Jupiter gets hit,” George Hall, the Dallas astronomer who first corroborated the discovery, told NBC.

PHOTOS: The Month in Space: August

MORE: On Jupiter’s Moon Europa

9 comments
online earth
online earth

 nice  site.

earth tell us

Causes of Acid Rain

Miles Kehoe
Miles Kehoe

From a human point of view, Jupiter, as well as Saturn and the other outer planets, are much better places for asteroids to go to die. The huge gravitational field does sometimes protect earth; on the other hand, such gigantic gravity wells can just as easily slingshot an object towards a collision that was not going to otherwise pose any danger. If we're going to praise Jupiter for taking the beating so we don't have to, we need to be just as ready to curse it for directing a potential killer object into a collision course with earth at some point in the future. 

Ironically, neither Jupiter nor the earth particularly care... it happens all the time on the grand scheme of the universe. One good reason to get serious about manned space exploration!

Naira Pitt
Naira Pitt

WWAAAWW this asteroid looked big ... luckily for us jupiter is there to act as a shield :s

Naira Pitt
Naira Pitt

WWAAAWW this asteroid looked big ... luckily for us jupiter is there to act as a shield :s

Annuler les modifications

Nouveau ! Maintenez la touche Maj enfoncée, cliquez et faites glisser les mots ci-dessus pour les réorganiser. Ignorer

traduction automatique de Google

Dictionnaire

Google Traduction pour les entreprises :Google Translator ToolkitGadget TraductionOutil d'aide à l'exportDésactiver la traduction instantanéeÀ propos de Google TraductionMobileConfidentialitéAideEnvoyer des commentaires

pouclier

...

...

...

...

pouclierit scares

Cliquer ici pour apporter des modifications et voir d'autres traductions

Paul Edward B
Paul Edward B

Jupiter has more gas than the entire Republican Party combined.  It can handle those kind of impacts.

ERenger
ERenger

Please don't politicize Jupiter (the Grand Old Planet). 

surfy6
surfy6

*sigh*  can't you cleaver little trolls,  just for once, take a day off?

BluBlue
BluBlue

 The trolls are now carrying cleavers? We're all F*****!