A large object, possibly an asteroid or a meteor, hit the planet Jupiter on Thursday, resulting in a large fireball.
The fireball was seen on June 3 at 2031 UTC by two independent amateur astronomers, Christopher Go in the Philippines and Anthony Wesley in Australia. Wesley, who is known for having also spotted last July’s Jupiter impact event. He caught this latest impact on video, which showed a fireball the size of Earth after the object hit. It could be the first time someone has recorded a meteor crashing into a planet.
This latest strike came only hours after a team from the Space Science Institute, led by astronomer Heidi Hammel, announced that last year’s event was the result of an asteroid 1,640 feet (500 metres) wide. That asteroid caused a scar the size of the Pacific Ocean when it hit Jupiter with the force of several thousand nuclear bombs on July 19, 2009.
The planet last experienced a major impact in July 1994, when it was hit by Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 (SL9), resulting in large scars as well. Scientists originally thought that there would not be any more Jupiter strikes for several centuries following SL9, but have now been proved wrong twice in as many years.