Something slammed into Jupiter in the last few days, creating a dark bruise about the size of the Pacific Ocean.
The bruise was noticed by an amateur astronomer on Sunday, July 19. University of California, Berkeley, astronomer Paul Kalas took advantage of previously scheduled observing time on the Keck II telescope in Hawaii to image the blemish in the early morning hours of Monday, July 20. The near infrared image showed a bright spot in Jupiter's southern hemisphere, where the impact had propelled reflective particles high into the relatively clear stratosphere.
In visible light, the bruise appears dark against the bright surface of Jupiter.
The observation made with the Keck II telescope marks only the second time astronomers have seen the results of an impact on the planet. The first collision occurred exactly 15 years ago, between July 16 and 22, 1994, when more than 20 fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with Jupiter.
The Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL9) impact events were well-studied by astronomers, including several from UC Berkeley, and many theories were subsequently developed based on the observations."Now we have a chance to test these ideas on a brand new impact event," said Kalas, who observed the aftermath of the new impact with the help of Michael Fitzgerald of Lawrence Livermore National Lab and UCLA.
"The analysis of the shape and brightness of the feature will help in determining the energy and the origin of the impactor," said Marchis. "We don't see other bright features along the same latitude, so this was most likely the result of a single asteroid, not a chain of fragments like for SL9."
"The fact that (the feature) shows up so clearly means that it's associated with high-altitude aerosols, as seen in the Shoemaker-Levy impacts," said James Graham of UC Berkeley, who assisted with the new observations as well as with observations taken during the SL9 event in 1994.
Mike Wong, a UC Berkeley researcher currently on leave at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, used the observations to calculate that the scar is near the southern pole of Jupiter (305 W, 57 S in planetographic coordinates) and that the impact covers a 190-million-square-kilometer area as big as the Pacific Ocean. Because of the complex shape of the explosion, it is possible that tidal effects fragmented the impactor – a comet or asteroid –shortly before it collided with the planet.
The impact fell on the 15th anniversary of the SL9 impacts, but the coincidences do not end there. Kalas' original plan was to search for a previously detected, Jupiter-like planet around the star Fomalhaut. The star is located roughly 25 light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Piscis Austrinus. Kalas showed previously that the planet, dubbed Fomalhaut b, is bright, and one explanation for that brightness is that it is suffering impacts just like Jupiter, he said.
Later this week, astronomers from UC Berkeley and around the world plan to conduct high-resolution visible and ultraviolet observations of the impact site using the Hubble Space Telescope's brand new Wide Field Camera 3. Ground-based facilities including the W. M. Keck telescope will also use adaptive optics to obtain much sharper infrared images of the impact's aftermath. But the Keck images reported here will provide a crucial baseline for measuring the spread of impact-related material, Wong said. No other method exists to directly track the winds at these rarified levels of Jupiter's atmosphere.
One of those planning to observe Jupiter with Keck is UC Berkeley astronomer Imke de Pater, who was one of the leaders of the campus's SL9 observations of Jupiter in 1994. Working with Conrad and Wong, she plans to observe Jupiter on July 24 using a laser guide star with adaptive optics, analogous to observations conducted in July 2006 and May 2008.
Robert Sanders | EurekAlert!
Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz
New functional principle to generate the „third harmonic“
16.02.2017 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.
In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
20.02.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering
17.02.2017 | Medical Engineering