You wanna see a big ass asteroid slam into the largest planet in the solar system?
Yea you do.
Yea you fucking do.
The impact occurred on March 17th and was recorded by an amateur Austrian astronomer who was filming Jupiter through his telescope.
That’s a big fucking blast, and the incident was confirmed by another astronomer, also filming the gas giant at the time.
Slate’s astronomy expert, Phil Plait, estimates the asteroid (or comet, but fuck comets) that struck Jupiter was probably only a couple dozen meters across, which sounds small. How’d it make such a visible impact?
Given how brief the flash was, and how bright, I’m sure it wasn’t terribly big, probably in the tens-of-meters wide range. I know that sounds small, but remember, Jupiter has ferocious gravity, and velocity is critical here! The energy released by an object slamming into another depends linearly on the mass (double the mass, double the energy), but on the square of the velocity: double the velocity, quadruple the energy.
On average (and ignoring orbital velocity), an object will hit Jupiter with roughly five times the velocity it hits Earth, so the impact energy is 25 times as high. The asteroid that burned up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013 was 19 meters across, and it exploded with the energy of 500,000 tons of TNT.
Now multiply that by 25, and you can see how it doesn’t take all that big a rock to hit Jupiter for us to be able to see it from Earth.
But could it happen here?
Also, in his piece, Plait doesn’t make mention of the possibility that it could be an alien nuclear strike, which I consider to be journalistically irresponsible of him.
Because it totally could be. That’s absolutely an alien bomb.