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Jupiter is a Large Target
June 4, 2010 7:27 AM   Subscribe

Early this morning, local time, two amateur astronomers independently captured images of something colliding with Jupiter. Anthony Wesley (cache) in Broken Hill, Australia noticed it first. Wesley spread the word and Christopher Go (cache) in Cebu City, Philippines also found that he'd documented the event, which occurred at 20:31 June 3, Universal Time.

At this point it's uncertain what made the impact. It could have been a comet—we all got a good idea what that looks like when the fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 rained down on Jupiter over several days in 1994. It could also have been an asteroid, which is the just-announced working assumption on the impact discovered after the fact last year … by Anthony Wesley (previously).
posted by Songdog (57 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
It looks so small -- but that impact would have destroyed a city if it'd hit here.
posted by eriko at 7:30 AM on June 4, 2010


I've got an idea - we aim an asteroid at the leaking oil well. What could possibly go wrong?
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:32 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


It's been a rough couple a' weeks for Jupiter.
posted by HumanComplex at 7:33 AM on June 4, 2010


Jupiter's radius is some 11 times Earth's; I think that little blip scaled up would take out a wee bit more than a city.
posted by brokkr at 7:34 AM on June 4, 2010


Ok. It'd take out a city the size of Texas.
posted by bz at 7:35 AM on June 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


A quick comparison.
posted by brokkr at 7:37 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry!! SO SORRY! I wasn't paying attention and I took a wrong turn at Uranus (heh heh) and before you know it WHAM I slammed my VW straight into Jupiter. Don't worry, I have insurance.
posted by spicynuts at 7:37 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


What could possibly go wrong?

James Carville riding a burning alligator.

But in general, this is really awesome.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:38 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jupiter? I hardly know 'er!
posted by padraigin at 7:44 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's just a mining probe from the Normandy.

(Mass Effect 3 will be all about the Council forces going after Shepherd for strip mining the galaxy.)
posted by kmz at 7:44 AM on June 4, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is one of the awesome things about astronomy -- important science can still be done by amateurs, not just institutes with massive budgets.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:46 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jupiter just got more stupider
posted by yoyoceramic at 7:46 AM on June 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


I have a hard time getting excited about discoveries beyond our solar system, I think because it just feels too remote. But stuff like this, stuff that happens so close to us, amazes me.

We've been to Jupiter. We know it well. It's an old friend. It's in our neighborhood.

And something just crashed into it.

Fascinating and scary.
posted by bondcliff at 7:50 AM on June 4, 2010


Nothing to see here. Please go about your business.
posted by hal9k at 7:54 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nice to have a cosmic vacuum so things don't actually hit Earth. From Wikipedia:

the rate of cometary impacts on Jupiter is thought to be between two thousand and eight thousand times higher than the rate on Earth.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 7:57 AM on June 4, 2010


Uh oh, it's 2010 after all...
posted by CarlRossi at 7:59 AM on June 4, 2010


I read something a few weeks ago about the estimated probability of Jupiter getting hit and how often it should happen. The impact last year basically told them there's more floating around out there than we thought there was, and as such our chances here on Earth go up as well. This one raises the odds even more.

The good news is we've got an idea of what's around us due in part to SOHO and the thousands of people searching for these things, and WISE is systematically finding what's left and if there is anything out there throwing them at us. There's also our four big siblings, including Jupiter, kindly mopping up this crap for us.
posted by jwells at 8:10 AM on June 4, 2010


Way to go Jupiter. Your enormous size and awesome gravitational pull acts like asteroid flypaper.

Earth thanks you again.
posted by three blind mice at 8:14 AM on June 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


Wait... there's a universal TIME? Why do we still have time zones? Is it the same time on Mars?

AHHH. MY BRAINS. THEY ACHE. hold me.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 8:14 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


For god sakes universe give me half a second to sort out the other omens and portents you've been throwing my way before crashing stuff into a major celestial body. Sheesh!
posted by The Whelk at 8:14 AM on June 4, 2010


KAPOW!
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


NONE OF THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS, NOT EVEN EARTH AFTER WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO IT, SO GET OFF OUR LAWN. DON'T LET THE OORT CLOUD HIT YOUR ASS ON THE WAY OUT.
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:19 AM on June 4, 2010 [18 favorites]


While it is true that anything that Jupiter absorbs stuff that comes close to it, it is important to remember that stuff can be falling towards the sun from any direction (not just the one that happens to include Jupiter in the path). Also, Jupiter's gravitation only captures objects that come close enough to it. Objects farther out can be deflected by Jupiter's gravitation and that deflection can work for earth's inhabitants' interests or against it.
posted by spock at 8:23 AM on June 4, 2010


three blind mice: "Way to go Jupiter. Your enormous size and awesome gravitational pull acts like asteroid flypaper. "

But you say surely there is somewhere in the solar system a planet big enough to cover Jupiter. Let us put the so-called Red Planet into place... Look! Ha ha ha! God of war? God of jokes! Mars looks like a tiny pimple on the vast beautiful face of mother Jupiter! Ha ha ha!
posted by Joe Beese at 8:38 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hahah, you missed us Vogons, we don't even live on that planet!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:55 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


20:31 June 3, Universal Time.

If we are being removed from the universe, I bet it's for being such goddamn self-centered Earthian pricks.

"Universal time." The nerve of some species.
posted by rokusan at 9:04 AM on June 4, 2010


Hmmmm...Are we 100% percent sure this isn't some sort of sperm ------->egg thing? I need reassurances! How is cosmic babby formed?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:09 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hmmmm... this sounds familiar somehow. Oh, yes:

"Ladies and gentlemen, we interrupt our program of dance music to bring you a special bulletin from the Intercontinental Radio News. At twenty minutes before eight, central time, Professor Farrell of the Mount Jennings Observatory, Chicago, Illinois, reports observing several explosions of incandescent gas, occurring at regular intervals on the planet Mars. The spectroscope indicates the gas to be hydrogen and moving towards the earth with enormous velocity. Professor Pierson of the Observatory at Princeton confirms Farrell's observation, and describes the phenomenon as (quote) like a jet of blue flame shot from a gun (unquote)."source
posted by Wulfhere at 9:13 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jupiter is the solar system's Patrick Roy.
posted by Mister_A at 9:19 AM on June 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh who cares, it's Jupiter, it's not like they have anything going on there anyway. They probably still use MySpace.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:22 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


This reminds me of the advice G. Gordon Liddy gave (in his autobiography?) about how to survive in prison. On the first day inside, he said, you should walk up to the biggest motherfucker in the place and punch him square in the face with all your might. This will show everyone in the joint that you're either:
a. a total badass who should never be messed with, or
b. a complete nutjob who should never be messed with.

It seems our soon-to-be alien overlords must have read that marvelous bastard's book.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:29 AM on June 4, 2010


It's just a mining probe from the Normandy...

"I have detected an anomoly."
(static)
(barely audible) "General distress. General distress. Freighter hijacked by Blue Suns.."
(fades to static)
posted by uni verse at 9:39 AM on June 4, 2010


I didn't know BP had a rig on Jupiter too.
posted by thorny at 9:42 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


NONE OF THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS, NOT EVEN --

HEY, QUIT THROWING ROCKS! YOU CAN'T HAVE IT. ARGH. THIS IS WHY THE UNIVERSE CAN'T HAVE NICE THINGS.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2010


Or: the arachnids have started throwing rocks, but their aim needs work.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 9:56 AM on June 4, 2010


I'm actually very surprised to find that there is no Fuck Yeah Jupiter Tumblr site. Someone should get on that, stat.
posted by bondcliff at 9:59 AM on June 4, 2010


brokkr: "A quick comparison."

Why is Jupiter staring at Earth like that? We didn't steal his belt.
posted by Splunge at 10:02 AM on June 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


According to that Christopher Go link, the impact occurred right in that faded South Equatorial Belt area. That's gotta hurt.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:30 AM on June 4, 2010


A quick comparison.

An even quicker comparison:      . O
posted by blue_beetle at 10:53 AM on June 4, 2010 [9 favorites]


In RPG terms, Jupiter tanks for the rest of the solar system.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:54 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. Then God said, "Let there be a cosmic vacuum cleaner so that it may continuously scrub the iron filings of my work from the heavens and protect all of mankind," and Jupiter appeared, and, yea, it was not quite a Dyson but it was definitely a good model, and God saw that it was a good and worthy planet.
posted by crapmatic at 11:09 AM on June 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


Kevin: According to that Christopher Go link, the impact occurred right in that faded South Equatorial Belt area. That's gotta hurt.

Yeah, but we're talking about Jove. To a guy who becomes the golden shower, that's just foreplay. (As opposed to Mars who would just slice you in half.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:21 AM on June 4, 2010


I for one am glad every time that douche bag planet gets sucker punched by an asteroid. Jupiter has been acting like a big shot for too long now showing off it's massive gravitational field. So its got a big red spot. Big fucking deal. We have a big black spot that's getting bigger every day.
posted by digsrus at 11:28 AM on June 4, 2010 [4 favorites]


Seriously, who fucks a swan?
posted by The Whelk at 11:39 AM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't you dare judge Afroblanco, it was the experimental phase.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 11:44 AM on June 4, 2010


great, I've ruined one of my favorite songs, thanks swan-fucker.
posted by The Whelk at 11:46 AM on June 4, 2010


Kids these days just don't respect their elders. Jupiter used to be the king of the gods, but now they just steal his belt and throw a cream pie in his face.
posted by Quietgal at 12:40 PM on June 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


To be fair, he was willing to do anything, anything for that next hit of ambrosia.
posted by fleacircus at 1:10 PM on June 4, 2010


Wait... there's a universal TIME? Why do we still have time zones? Is it the same time on Mars?

There is no time in space.
posted by The Tensor at 1:39 PM on June 4, 2010


In space you got nuthing but time.
posted by The Whelk at 1:48 PM on June 4, 2010


While it is true that anything that Jupiter absorbs stuff that comes close to it, it is important to remember that stuff can be falling towards the sun from any direction (not just the one that happens to include Jupiter in the path).

Yeah but almost everything does come from directions that include Jupiter's path, because most of the mass in the neighborhood is part of the solar system, and almost all the mass of the solar system is in a disk, not a sphere, the same disk as Jupiter's path.

For similar reasons, the moon sweeps our immediate neighborhood clear to a much greater extent than you'd think based on how tiny it is.
posted by -harlequin- at 7:06 PM on June 4, 2010


Universal time is for the weak. I want to start scheduling meetings at work in sidereal time and see how many people will agree to a meeting every Tuesday at 9:00 without even looking up what sidereal means.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:26 PM on June 4, 2010


In space, nobody wears a watch.

CUE OMINOUS MUSIC
posted by Splunge at 7:36 PM on June 4, 2010


Jupiter kicks all kinds of ass. With some really simple equipment from the Radio Jove project, you can listen to Jupiter's radio emissions.
posted by neuron at 10:36 PM on June 4, 2010


Meanwhile, a neighboring gas giant may have some news of its own: Hints of life found on Saturn moon
posted by homunculus at 10:54 PM on June 4, 2010


TOYNBEE IDEA IN MOVIE '2001'
RESURRECT DEAD ON PLANET JUPITER

It has begun.
posted by TreeHugger at 8:53 AM on June 5, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a few weeks old but I thought I'd follow up with the news that the Hubble imaged the impact site and failed to find any evidence of a debris cloud. Whatever fell into Jupiter simply wasn't large enough to make a mark we can see.
posted by Songdog at 9:49 AM on June 29, 2010


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