Friday 4 June 2010

Jupiter Gets Twatted Again

For anyone who thinks that planetary impact events are simply the stuff of B rate films with good special effects and a tenuous grasp of physics, here's a little bit of video.  It shows a fireball the size of the planet Earth (ish)....

It was caught in the act by an amateur in Australia, Anthony Wesley
(Click the link for a still from a video that shows the actual fireball....OK, it's just a little white dot, but it's better than Hubble managed! )

There's a couple of interesting things about this.  Firstly, if that had hit the Earth there probably wouldn't be anyone left at all.  In fact the chances of any life surviving that isn't a bacteria of some description aren't good.  Forget nuclear weapons, they look like peashooters in comparison.  We've had several near misses in the last few years, including a couple of asteroids that passed inside the Moon's orbit, which is a whisker in astronomical terms, or "a bit too bloody close for comfort" in mine.

And you know what?  We spotted them on the way out.  If they'd hit the first thing we'd have know about it is a bit of a rumble and then the End Of The World (TM).

The other interesting thing is that Jupiter seems to be a bit of a vacuum cleaner (no pun intended) where the Solar system is concerned.  In the brief time where we've had telescopes big and common enough to see this kind of thing there have been several impacts on Jupiter, notably the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet, and another impact almost exactly a year ago:

(Image courtesy of - public domain)

I'm living in the

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