A couple of amateur astronomers focused a lot of attention on Jupiter June 3, when they independently caught images of something big hitting the cloud-tops of Jupiter. The only question was how big.
Anthony Wesley, Broken Hills, Aus.
Here is Australian Anthony Wesley with the telescope he used to photograph the impact.
Christopher Go of the Philippines, another amateur, also caught the impact, and even posted this video of the flash.
Almost immediately, astronomers around the world began looking for a "bruise" in the planet's clouds where whatever it was plunged in. If it was big enough, and went deep enough, it would have exploded and left behind a debris field that would look like another spot on Jupiter's mottled visage. It's happened before, as in this Hubble image from July 2009 (black mark in the lower hemisphere) that gradually faded in the ensuing months.
NASA, ESA, M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), H.B. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley), and the Jupiter Impact Team.
Astronomers believe the 2009 impact was an asteroid, big enough to make its mark. But when the Hubble imaged the newest impact spot on June 7 with its Wide Field Camera 3, it found nothing.
NASA, ESA, M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), H.B. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), A.A. Simon-Miller (Goddard Space Flight Center), and the Jupiter Impact Science Team.
That suggests it was "just" a meteor, according to astronomer Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute in Colorado, who was watching when the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 disintegrated and plowed into Jupiter, leaving a string of bruises that were impossible to miss.
Hubble Space Telescope Comet Team, NASA