A space rock hit Jupiter’s gaseous “surface” in October last year and the impact of that collision, which may have been the biggest in 28 yearswas so strong that observers here on Earth were able to capture the phenomenon.
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According to the scientists who made the record, astronomers and astrophysicists at Kyoto University in Japan, this explosion was equivalent to 2 million tons of TNT and triggered the biggest explosive flash ever captured in the gas giant since 1994, when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit the planet with a force of more than 300 million atomic bombs, causing, according to NASA, dark and ringed “scars” that were eventually erased by the winds of Jupiter.
This new sighting was taken by the Planetary Observation Camera for Optical Transient Research (PONCOTS), a collaborative astronomical observation project dedicated specifically to monitoring these flares on Jupiter.
The study, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, also describes that the rock had a mass of about 4.1 million kg and enter 15 to 30 meters in diameterenough to release an impact energy equivalent to the Tunguska meteorite, which hit Earth in 1908, more specifically in the Russian province of Siberia, and which is considered “the greatest cosmic impact witnessed” by modern humanity.
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“This detection indicates that Tunguska-like impact events on Jupiter occur approximately once a year, two to three orders of magnitude more frequent than terrestrial impacts,” the researchers said in the paper.
Detail shows glare region. — Photo: Arimatsu et al/Kyoto University/PONCOTS
Also according to the authors of the publication, studying how these phenomena happen on Jupiter is important because provides an opportunity for science to better understand the consequences of possible similar impacts here on Earth’s surface.
“As these impacts occur only once every 102 – 103 years on Earth, their emission characteristics are unknown,” they pointed out.
According to the US space agency, the impact of Tunguska was so strong that a seismic shock wave was even recorded in England.