Object hits Jupiter

New Giant Scar on Jupiter

Scientists have found evidence that another object has bombarded Jupiter, exactly 15 years after the first impacts by the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. Following up on a tip by an amateur astronomer from Australia that a new dark "scar" had suddenly appeared on Jupiter scientists gathered evidence indicating an impact.

New infrared images show the likely impact point was near the south polar region, with a visibly dark "scar" and bright upwelling particles in the upper atmosphere detected in near-infrared wavelengths, and a warming of the upper troposphere with possible extra emission from ammonia gas detected at mid-infrared wavelengths.

"We were extremely lucky to be seeing Jupiter at exactly the right time, the right hour, the right side of Jupiter to witness the event. We couldn't have planned it better," said Glenn Orton, a scientist at JPL.

Orton and his team of astronomers kicked into gear early in the morning and haven't stopped tracking the planet. They are downloading data now and are working to get additional observing time on this and other telescopes.

"It could be the impact of a comet, but we don't know for sure yet," said Orton. "It's been a whirlwind of a day, and this on the anniversary of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 and Apollo anniversaries is amazing."

Shoemaker-Levy 9 was a comet that had been seen to break into many pieces before the pieces hit Jupiter in 1994.

The impact close to the south polar region left a dark spot, which is with an area of about 190 Million Square Kilometers as big as the Pacific Ocean. Since the scar has a complex structure, scientists suspect that the asteroid or comet burst into several pieces before the impact.

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