Asteroid the size of the Titanic caused giant crater on Jupiter
Point of impact: These infrared NASA images show particle debris in Jupiter’s atmosphere after an asteroid hit the planet on July 19, 2009. The impact and its after-effects can be seen as the bright spot on the lower left of an image taken on July 20 (left), and as the bright smudge on the lower left of an image taken on August 16 (right).
The scar left on Jupiter after the July 2009 impact was caused by an asteroid the size of the Titanic, according to research.
A huge rock some 500 metres long hit the planet and created a hole the size of the Pacific Ocean, roughly the equivalent of Jupiter’s Little Red Spot.
It was the first time scientists had monitored an asteroid hitting the planet – previously it had only been thought that icy comets hit Jupiter after being sucked in by its gravitational field.
Researchers said the discovery was ‘intriguing’ and a reminder that the solar system is a ‘complex and violent’ place.
It was shortly after lunchtime on July 19, 2009 that amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley became the first to notice the impact from the observatory in his home in New South Wales, Australia.
He thought it was a dark spot but having got a better angle he could see it was entirely black, meaning an impact had occurred.
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