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Jupiter Fireballs Caused by Big Impacts Hitting the Planet 6 to 7 Times a year

May 20, 2016 06:52 AM EDT
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Jupiter's Satellites
Fireballs are produced when Jupiter is hit by an asteroid or a meteor. Because of the size of the planet, it is believed that Jupiter receives the most number of impacts annually compared to other planets.
(Photo : NASA/Newsmakers)

Fireballs surrounding gigantic planet, Jupiter is often seen on Earth. Researchers found out that these fireballs are caused by impacts hitting the planet 6 to 7 times a year.

Amateur astronomers launched a campaign to observe Jupiter. They found out about the impacts experienced by Jupiter throughout the year are mostly asteroids and meteors hitting the planet. The findings were presented during the professional and amateur astronomers' conference at the Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur in Nice, France.

Because the fireballs can easily be observed using simple equipments, even amateur astronomers can study the impacts occuring on the surface of Jupiter. The group wanted to come up with an exact estimate of the number of impacts received by Jupiter every year.   

"Dramatic impacts with Jupiter can be captured with standard amateur equipment and analyzed with easy-to-use software. But to get a good estimate of how often these events occur, we need observers around the world who are willing to collaborate to create a program of more-or-less continuous monitoring of Jupiter." said Marc Delcriox, the organizer of the group, in a statement published by Phys.org

Jupiter is continuously being hit more often as compared to other planets and fireballs are the result of these impacts as observed by amateur astronomers Gerrit Kernbauer and John McKeon on 17th March 2016.

Last March, McKeon managed to capture a Jupiter impact on film. This helped the researchers in their quest to come up with an estimate on the number of impacts received by the planet.

Because of McKeon's video, the group was able to arrive at an initial estimate that Jupiter receives a total of 6 to 7 impacts per year. But further observations have to be done to find the exact number.

One thing is for sure though, that Jupiter receives a large number of asteroid and meteor impact each year probably because of its size.

"We are still dealing with the statistics of a very few number of impacts detected, but plans to improve our detection methods and perform systematic searches will help us to detect more of these objects," said astronomer Ricardo Hueso at the University of the Basque Country, in an interview with UPI.

 

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