Comet smashes hole in Jupiter the size of Earth... and is spotted by amateur stargazer
By Daily Mail Reporter
An amateur astronomer has discovered a hole in Jupiter the size of Earth, after the planet was apparently hit by a comet.
Australian Anthony Wesley was using a home-made telescope in the yard of his rural home in Murrumbateman, near Canberra, when he spotted a dark scar had suddenly appeared on the side of Jupiter at 1am yesterday morning.
Scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California then gathered evidence of an impact, possibly from a comet strike, using images from the infrared telescope in Hawaii.
Scar: An amateur astronomer spotted evidence of a large impact on Jupiter's south polar region
Mr Wesley said that he had discovered the scar in between running inside to watch the final rounds of the British Open golf on television.
'About 11pm I went inside to have a break and watch the golf, and by the time I came back out at about 1am the impact point had rotated around into view,' he told The Times.
More...Google Earth launches interactive 3D moon atlas to celebrate Apollo landings
The Apollo Age: How 40 years has transformed the first men on the Moon
Space station toilet out of order as 13 astronauts told to ration relief breaks
Never-before-seen photo shows Neil Armstrong's face as he first walks across the moon
'I couldn’t believe it. I thought "That wasn’t there before" and then I realised Jupiter had actually been hit by something.'
Photos of Jupiter were taken by Nasa's Infrared Telescope Facility in Mauna Kea, Hawaii
The 44-year-old IT consultant, who spends 20 hours a week watching the planet, immediately notified NASA of his discovery.
The agency's scientists then used infrared images to identify the likely impact point as near the south polar region
Bright upwelling particles in the upper atmosphere were detected in near-infrared wavelengths, while a warming of the upper troposphere with possible extra emission from ammonia gas was detected at mid-infrared wavelengths.
'We were extremely lucky to be seeing Jupiter at exactly the right time, the right hour, the right side of Jupiter to witness the event. We couldn't have planned it better,' said scientist Glenn Orton, praising Mr Wesley.
The suspected strike comes on the 15th anniversary of another comet strike.
In 1994, Jupiter was bombarded by pieces of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.