Posted Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012, at 5:56 PM
Photo by STR/AFP/Getty Images
Stargazers are still buzzing about a mysterious collision on Jupiter earlier this week that created a fireball so large it was captured by amateur astronomers. The impact and explosion, which lasted a little under 2 seconds, were first reported by Dan Peterson of Racine, Wis. on the forum cloudynights.com. Peterson surmises it may have been a small comet striking the solar system’s largest planet.
This is the fourth report of large objects striking Jupiter since 2009, casting doubt on the notion that Jovian collisions are quite rare. And perhaps raising a bit of anxiety on Earth that those asteroid collisions at the heart of Hollywood blockbusters might not be so far-fetched. Though we can at least take solace in knowing that Jupiter is 450-million miles away and is a far larger target.