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10.18.19
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Something Enormous Just Smashed Into Jupiter

August 9th 19__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Hard Science
NASA/Victor Tangermann

Planetary Punch

On Wednesday night, Jupiter got hit by something so big that a photographer was able to capture the impact using a telescope in his backyard.

Based on the stunning images, astronomers believe it could’ve been a meteor impact — an event so fleeting, it’s rarely caught on camera.

Software Assist

In the images astrophotographer Ethan Chappel shared, a tiny white spot appears and then winks out on the lower left side of Jupiter.

That briefness is what astronomers would expect from a meteor impact, and it’s also what makes the events so difficult to detect — in fact, Chappel didn’t even notice it at the time.

“I did not see the flash while recording,” he told ScienceAlert. “I only noticed it afterwards thanks to a great piece of software called DeTeCt by Marc Delcroix, which is designed specifically for finding these flashes.”

Rare Sighting

Once Chappel realized what he’d caught on camera, however, he told ScienceAlert he felt the need to share it with “people who would find the results useful” — and it seems those people are happy he did.

“To get a video like that, I’ve never seen anything like that before,” University of Southern Queensland astronomer Jonti Horner told ScienceAlert. “That’s just totally breathtaking.”

READ MORE: A Meteor Just Exploded On Jupiter, And A Photographer Actually Caught It On Video [Science Alert]

More on Jupiter: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot Is Dying