Jupiter just got hit by a celestial object. And there is no need to panic because Jupiter goes through this sort of events all the time. In the video below, a relatively small blip of light can be clearly witnessed on the right side of the gas giant. From here it may look insignificant, but the resultant explosion was remarkably powerful. An amateur Austrian astronomer caught this event by using his 20-centimetre telescope.
As the tiny flash could have been the consequence of a mechanical issue, a second video - recorded at the same time with a 28-centimetre telescope in Ireland - was used to verify the first, approving the impact. As seen how big the blip looks, the piece of space-rock that struck Jupiter must have been huge to produce that type of impact, right? Well, not quite.
According to Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy, that the asteroid or comet possibly only measured a few hundred feet in diameter. Nevertheless, when it comes to these type of collisions, the size of the comet or asteroid doesn’t really matter as much as the mass of what it’s striking.
Plait explains: “On average (and ignoring orbital velocity), an object will hit Jupiter with roughly five times the velocity it hits Earth, so the impact energy is 25 times as high. The asteroid that burned up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 was 19 metres across, and it exploded with the energy of 500,000 tons [454,000 tonnes] of TNT. Now multiply that by 25, and you can see how it doesn’t take all that big a rock to hit Jupiter for us to be able to see it from Earth.
At these huge speeds, hitting the atmosphere is like slamming into a wall. A lot of people get understandably confused how an asteroid can explode due to air, but the pressures involved as it rams through the atmosphere at these speeds are ridiculously huge.”