Large space objects fall on Jupiter more often than you think

Large space objects fall on Jupiter more often than you think

For a certain part of the Earth’s population, the arrival of the Chelyabinsk or Tungus meteorites was a real shock. You can also rewind time to 65 million years ago and look at the fall of the asteroid, which caused the extinction of dinosaurs (one theory). But all this stuff and nothing, when compared with the frequent bombardment of Jupiter.

Recently we wrote an article “What did the collision of comet and Jupiter look like? Video ”, where they described the 1994 event - the fall of the fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 onto the“ surface ”of Jupiter. Although it was spectacular, but not the only case.

Large space objects fall on Jupiter more often than you think

This photograph taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in July 1994 shows the impact site, where one of the fragments of the comet Shoemaker-Levi 9 collided with Jupiter.

On March 17, 2016 (00:18:45), reports were received from amateur astronomers claiming that they had seen something crash into Jupiter. An unknown object (a comet or an asteroid) was recorded in the form of a white flash of light to the right of the planet. For all the time I managed to register about 6 events of objects falling into the gas giant. Astronomer John McKeon from Ireland recorded the moment of the fall on the video.

Collision of an unknown object with Jupiter on March 17, 2016, captured by the camera of an amateur astronomer.

If we take the statistics from 2009, then 6 cases of collisions with space objects were recorded on the gas giant (and these are only those that could be detected). For example, in 2009, a 500-meter asteroid burst into the atmospheric layer of Jupiter.

In 2010, amateur astronomers watched the fall of an object with a width of 10-20 m, which was repeated on March 17, 2016. And on September 10, 2012, a collision with a 30-meter space object was captured on video. A study from 2013 suggests that the largest planet of the solar system is attacked by 5-20-meter space objects 12-60 times a year!

Large space objects fall on Jupiter more often than you think

A flash signaled the moment of impact. Astronomer Phil Plate (author of the blog “Bad Astronomy) believes that the object was stretched wide by 33 feet. It does not matter if it is a comet or an asteroid, since the objects flying up to Jupiter move 5 times faster than they go towards Earth.

Here it is important to make a comparison. The asteroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk in 2013, in size, reached up to 20 m, which has become the most powerful “space strike” for our planet since 1908. And for Jupiter, such objects are frequent guests. But why? For the title of the largest and most massive planet has to pay dearly. The main clue to this “attraction” of Jupiter is the gravity of the gas giant. Earth gravity is relatively safe in terms of dispersal of "foreign visitors", most of which freely swims past our planet.

But Jupiter is 317 times more massive than Earth, due to which it attracts asteroids and comets that are in its vicinity and have come under strong gravitational influence. A relatively small speed of movement of these objects also plays its role, which is usually 20-50 km / s.

But these indicators increase at the time of the fall (Jupiter’s gravity accelerates objects), which creates more energetic strikes than on Earth. Places of fall are recorded as dark spots in the atmosphere of the planet, which disappear after a few months.

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