A photograph captured by amateur astronomer Ethan Chappel appears to show an asteroid slamming into the gas giant Jupiter on Wednesday (Aug. 7). So far, astronomers are still waiting to see whether anyone else spotted the sudden flash, which was located over the planet’s South Equatorial Belt.
By Meghan Bartels | SPACE.com
„Today has felt completely unreal to me,“ Chappel wrote on Twitter. „Hoping someone else also recorded the impact to seal the deal.“ Chappel and fellow astrophotographer George Chappel post amazing views of the night sky at their website Chappel Astro.
There’s plenty of precedent for such impacts at Jupiter: The planet’s massive gravity tugs asteroids and other space debris toward itself. One group of astronomers has estimated an object 16.5 feet to 65 feet (5 to 20 meters) across slams into the planet between one and five times a month.