Backyard astronomer captures astonishing video of huge fireball whacking into Jupiter (video)

Originally published at: Backyard astronomer captures astonishing video of huge fireball whacking into Jupiter (video) | Boing Boing


How is it comparable in any sense at all, other than “object strikes planet”?

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Energy. The energy of the impact was on that scale. From the linked article:

According to Dr. Arimatsu’s initial analyses, the flash reported in August had an impact comparable to the 1908 Tunguska explosion in Siberia, which experts believe was an asteroid that ripped apart 800 square miles of forest. This is the second Jupiter event observed in the past decade with this much energy, said Dr. Arimatsu, who reported the last one in 2021, with an estimated energy equivalent to two megatons of TNT.


And that’s why Jupiter is so important to life on Earth: if its gravity didn’t divert so many asteroids from reaching the inner solar system we’d be experiencing Tunguska-level impacts on Earth all the time.


Came here to say that. It’s Jupiter being Jupiter, keeping the solar system clear of big ol’ objects that could disrupt everything important to us.


The idea that the planet Jupiter has acted as an impact shield through the Earth’s history is one that is entrenched in planetary science, even though little work had been done to examine this idea. In this work, we detail the results of simulations that reveal that Jupiter’s influence is not so straightforward. Indeed, it seems that the presence of Jupiter actually increases the rate at which asteroids and short-period comets impact the Earth. The traditional idea of “Jupiter — the shield” only holds true when one considers the long-period comets, which are so efficiently ejected from the solar system as Jupiter gains in mass that few remain to threaten the Earth. Given that these comets only make up a small fraction of the total impact threat, our startling conclusion is that, overall, Jupiter is not friend but foe!

But that was in 2010. Dynamical simulations get better, our theories of asteroid formation get a little bit better with every precious sample, and new theories of solar system formation get proposed. Things might have changed yet again.


That gassy bastard. I can’t believe it was just pretending to be looking out for us all this time.


Jupiter: “Hm. What was that? Oh, whatever. Anyway, as I was saying…”


That’s interesting, I thought it was a foregone conclusion. Speaking of life on earth, though, my take is that the only way life has come this far is that everything has had to be exactly as they are for it to happen here, and last so long. If one little thing was tipped one way or the other, this solar system would be just another lifeless bunch of rocks and gas just spinning around on their own.


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