Update on Jupiter hit

17 Jun 2010

The recent Jupiter impact, a week or so ago, has left behind a mystery. It produced a flash of light so bright it was visible in attic and garden telescopes but it did not create a cloud of debris - which is what observers from around the world have been waiting for. Alternatives to an impact are not being suggested, one of which is that it was not an object striking Jupiter but a Jovian lightning bolt. NASA are not impressed with this idea and a spokesperson said that NASA had seen plenty of night-side lightning on Jupiter but never lightning on the day time-side. To be visible it would have to be unimaginably more powerful than any previous bolt that we have ever witnessed. Hubble is now trained on Jupiter to see what might have happened - and the next day reported that it was probably a meteor that broke up in the atmosphere of Jupiter and did not create any debris of signficance.

The same story reappears on Daily Galaxy June 16th at www.dailygalaxy.com and asks why there was no visible impact cloud. It is a good retrospective response to the story and makes the point that it was a comet or asteroid rather than a puny meteor that would not have been seen in a back garden telescope.