Huge explosion spotted on Jupiter

Posted by Emma Woollacott

An amateur astronomer in Dallas has filmed an enormous explosion on Jupiter which took place early on Sunday morning.

George Hall says the incident was first noted by Dan Peterson, prompting Hall to examine his footage and find he had recorded the event.

Petersen says the explosion occurred at 11:35:30 UT, just inside Jupiter's eastern limb, at about Longitude 1 = 335, and Latitude = + 12 degrees north. The flash appeared to be about 100 miles in diameter.

"All of a sudden, a brilliant pinpoint of blazing white light started to grow and brighten just inside Jupiter's morning limb, this was in stark contrast to the planets yellowish color, its shape was slightly elliptical in it's north/south axis and was about as bright in appearance as a fourth magnitude star," says Peterson.

"I couldn't help but smile when I saw what was happening, a one in a trillion sight I thought. Then, just as rapidly as it appeared it started to dim until another second had past and it was forever gone. I just sat there and remembered thinking how amazing and surreal this all seems and how fortunate I was to observe this celestial fireball."

The bright flash, which lasts less than two seconds, is believed to represent the impact of a comet or asteroid - a big one. So far, though, there have been no reports of an impact scar, such as the one created by the Shoemaker-Levy/9 impacts in 1994.

Peterson says he believes that the fireball was traveling at more than 20,000 feet per second when it entered Jupiter's atmosphere.

"Had such an object hit our Earth it would have been a bad hair day to say the least," he says.