Status Report

Small impacts on the giant planet Jupiter

By SpaceRef Editor
April 10, 2018
Filed under , ,

R. Hueso, M. Delcroix, A. Sánchez-Lavega, S. Pedranghelu, G. Kernbauer, J. McKeon, A. Fleckstein, A. Wesley, J.M. Gómez-Forrellad, J.F. Rojas, J. Juaristi
(Submitted on 9 Apr 2018)

Video observations of Jupiter obtained by amateur astronomers over the past eight years have shown five flashes of light of 1-2 s. The first three of these events occurred on 3 June 2010, 20 August 2010, and 10 September 2012. Previous analyses showed that they were caused by the impact of objects of 5-20 m in diameter, depending on their density, with a released energy comparable to superbolides on Earth of the class of the Chelyabinsk airburst. The most recent two flashes on Jupiter were detected on 17 March 2016 and 26 May 2017 and are analyzed here. We characterize the energy involved together with the masses and sizes of the objects that produced these flashes. The rate of similar impacts on Jupiter provides improved constraints on the total flux of impacts on the planet, which can be compared to the amount of exogenic species detected in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter. We extracted light curves of the flashes and calculated the masses and sizes of the impacting objects. An examination of the number of amateur observations of Jupiter as a function of time allows us to interpret the statistics of these detections. The cumulative flux of small objects (5-20 m or larger) that impact Jupiter is predicted to be low (10-65 impacts per year), and only a fraction of them are potentially observable from Earth (4-25 per year in a perfect survey). More impacts will be found in the next years, with Jupiter opposition displaced toward summer in the northern hemisphere. Objects of this size contribute negligibly to the exogenous species and dust in the stratosphere of Jupiter when compared with the continuous flux from interplanetary dust punctuated by giant impacts. Flashes of a high enough could produce an observable debris field on the planet. We estimate that a continuous search for these impacts might find these events once every 0.4 to 2.6 years.

Comments:    Accepted in Astronomy & Astrophysics (2018), 9 figures
Subjects:    Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
DOI:    10.1051/0004-6361/201832689
Cite as:    arXiv:1804.03006 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1804.03006v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Ricardo Hueso 
[v1] Mon, 9 Apr 2018 14:13:14 GMT (7826kb,D)

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