The Great Black Spot [of Jupiter]

Jupiter's Black SpotIn yesterday’s telescopic post I neglected to mention the 19-year-old Hubble Space Telescope. Well, they’ve taken time out from calibrating the recently refurbished Hubble to look at that impact scar on Jupiter with the newly installed Wide Field Camera 3. Hubble press release here. Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and H. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), and the Jupiter Impact Team. Meanwhile a Guardian editorial, “In praise of.. astronomers”, points to a wondrous exhibition at the London Science Museum – Cosmos & Culture. And, via the Professor, this from Alan Boyle’s Cosmic Log

The good news is that Jupiter acts as something of a gravitational vacuum cleaner, sucking in deep-space impacts that might otherwise whack Earth. The bad news is that much more needs to be done to detect potentially harmful space rocks, and draw up a plan to protect our planet when (not if) we find one. In that sense, Jupiter’s black eye serves as a warning that we better put up our dukes.

More images from Hubble. Images Credit: NASA, ESA, and H. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), and the Jupiter Impact Team.

Jupiter's Black Spot

In close-up

Jupiter's Black Spot

And in montage.

Jupiter's Black Spot

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  • Dewi

    How big is the hole Pete?

  • Pete Baker


    According to the linked Hubble press release

    “Since we believe this magnitude of impact is rare, we are very fortunate to see it with Hubble,” added Amy Simon-Miller of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. She explained that the details seen in the Hubble view shows a lumpiness to the debris plume caused by turbulence in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The spot is presently twice the length of the United States.

    Simon-Miller estimated that the diameter of the object that slammed into Jupiter was at least the size of several football fields. The force of the explosion on Jupiter was thousands of times more powerful than the suspected comet or asteroid that exploded over the Tunguska River Valley in Siberia in June 1908.

    Which should answer some of the other questions you may come up with.

  • abucs

    Jupiter and Saturn make great line blockers.