Friday, June 4, 2010

Latest on Yesterday's Jupiter Impact

Yesterday at 20:31:29 UTC, astronomers Anthony Wesley and Christopher Go observed a bright flash within Jupiter's faded south equatorial belt.  This bright flash is thought to be the fireball of an impacting meteor in Jupiter's upper atmosphere.  Since the impact, both astronomers have posted videos and processed images online showing this flash.  Wesley's images and video have been posted to his website.  The link to his video is at the bottom of the page.  Note that his video is an AVI container and you may have issues viewing it in Windows Media Player.  It played just fine in VLC.  Additional news from Wesley going forward maybe posted on the Ice in Space forum first.  Christopher Go has posted processed images and video on his website.

The question now is whether this impact left a dark scar like the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impacts in 1994 and the July 2009 asteroid impact.  Gary Spiers posted times when the impact site cross the central meridian as viewed from Earth on his blog.  The first opportunity at 5:04 UTC was imaged in western and southern Europe by several observers.  While the seeing wasn't as good as what those further south like Wesley and Go obtained the previous Jovian day, they don't seem to show any sign of an impact scar.  A summary by John Rogers of the British Astronomical Association has been posted on ALPO-Japan with several "after" images from the UK, France, and Italy.  The next opportunity at 15:00 UTC was observed by several observatories on Mauna Kea in Hawaii (Gemini, Keck, and IRTF), according to Leigh Fletcher (who was involved in the followup observations at Mauna Kea after last year's impact) on Twitter.  No results have been posted yet, so hopefully their keener eyes will be able to spot a small impact scar.

Link: Anthony Wesley's 2010 Jupiter Impact Page []
Link: Christopher Go's Jupiter Imaging site []
Link: New impact on Jupiter before & after by John H.Rogers []

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