WATCH: Possible asteroid explodes in Jupiter’s cloud tops
Amateur astronomers have captured what appears to be an asteroid or comet colliding with Jupiter.
WATCH: Jupiter Impact March 17 2016
People who photograph celestial objects — planets, the sun, nebulas, etc. — are called astrophotographers. When doing planetary imaging, these astrophotographers will often take video and then, using computer software, stack the best images from the video.
A couple of astrophotograhers were doing just this on March 17, when they noticed a fleeting bright spot erupt just above Jupiter’s 3 o’clock position.
WATCH: Asteroid impact on Jupiter?
Jupiter’s massive gravity can alter the orbits of small objects as they pass.
In July 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, or SL9, put on the most dramatic show ever witnessed in our solar system. When the comet was discovered in 1993, it had broken up into 21 pieces, and each of them was set to collide with Jupiter in July the following year. The result of the collision was breathtaking: each piece exploded in Jupiter’s cloud tops. Even more spectacular was that the scars they left could be witnessed in even the smallest ground-based amateur telescopes.
READ MORE: David Levy: King of the comets
It’s unknown whether it was a large comet or an asteroid or how large it was.
Earth has its own collisions with objects. Typically they are small or go unnoticed (as we’re mostly covered in water). But in 2013, a large object exploded in the air over Chelyabinsk, Russia, creating an airburst that shattered windows and injured more than 1,000 people.
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