Video shows something massive hitting Jupiter
Although it looks like little more than a blip of light, the video below captures an incredible – and violent – collision on Jupiter.
Astronomers in Austria watching the gas giant recorded evidence of an object – likely a comet or an asteroid – striking Jupiter on March 17, creating what has been described as a “very, very, big bang.” The following week, a second recording from Ireland confirmed the impact.
Phil Plait, the “Bad Astronomer,” recapped the event better than we ever could:
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 meters across, and it exploded with the energy of 500,000 tons 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.
Incidentally, 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. The air and rock heat up, the rock starts to fall apart, and each chunk then gets hot, and so on, creating a very rapid cascade that releases the energy of motion in just a second or two.
Jupiter is a frequently destination for passing celestial objects thanks to its significant gravity, in fact it gets hit by a sizable object about once a year. Catching it on tape is a different matter though, so enjoy the beautiful destruction while you can.