Jupiter Impact Confirmed

21 07 2009

Since news of the dark spot, photographed and first reported by Anthony Wesley on July 19, a ton of telescopes have been trained on the giant planet around the world.   The one telescope that could give the earliest confirmation that it was indeed an imapact has now weighed in.  JPL’s Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea in Hawaii has returned this great image:

IR Jupiter impact

What you’re seeing is heat being given off in the area of the black spot.  This indicates that there’s an upwelling of warm gaseous material from lower in the atmosphere, much like dropping a rock in a pool of water brings a fountain of water shooting back up.  If the James Webb Space telescope were in place right now, it could be returning some amazingly crisp IR images of this area.  Guess we’ll just have to wait another five years.  <sigh>

In the meantime, multiple-frame movies are starting to eke out onto the web.  Here’s a pretty nice one by Dennis Simmons of Brisbane Australia:

jupiter impact thumb

Click for movie

Notice how the white spot seems to overtake the dark spot.  That’s because the different latitudes rotate at different velocities.  Because of this dynamic and other properties of atmospheres, the spot should start to spread out over the next few days.  Exciting stuff!



3 responses

22 07 2009

Ok, that’s crazy. What makes different latitudes rotate at different speeds? What happened to whatever struck Jupiter? Will Ramone ever find his long lost evil twin with amnesia? Tune in next time for all this and more!

22 07 2009

Ok, let me get this straight. I check your blog everyday since summer started, and you never update, and then I’m gone for like 4 days and this happens? Jeeze..btw, way cool about Jupiter.

22 07 2009

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