Jupiter hits by rock triggering biggest flash on record this century in giant explosion

An explosion on Jupiter, with a force equivalent to 2 million tons of TNT, triggered the biggest flash recorded from Earth on the gas giant in the last 28 years. The phenomenon was caused by the impact of a rock and, according to scientists, may have been similar to the meteorite collision in Earth’s recent history.

The case took place in October last year, but only now a survey with more details about what happened in the impact was released. According to Kyoto University in Japan, this was the biggest explosion recorded on Jupiter since 1994, when comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 caused an explosion equivalent to 300 million atomic bombs and left marks in Jupiter’s atmosphere.


Rock on Jupiter

The current record was made by the Planetary Observation Camera for Optical Transient Research (PONCOTS), a project created to specifically track explosions and flashes on Jupiter. This was the first time that an impact on the planet had been recorded by a dedicated observatory, until then the snapshots were mainly made by independent astronomers.

According to estimates, the rock was between 15 and 30 meters in diameter, a small size compared to Jupiter, but with enough speed to cause a heating in a temperature of up to 8 thousand°C. The researchers believe the impact was equivalent to that of the Tunguska meteorite, which hit Siberia in 1908 and is considered to be the largest meteorite to hit Earth during modern humanity.

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This type of impact is not exactly rare on Jupiter, as the gas giant, because of its size, attracts a large number of asteroids, but the flash is not always recorded here from Earth. “This detection indicates that Tunguska-like impact events on Jupiter occur approximately once a year, two to three orders of magnitude more frequent than terrestrial impacts,” reads an excerpt from the study, which has not yet been reviewed.

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