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Video: Jupiter Takes Yet Another Hit

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Credit: Masayuki Tachikawa

Chicken Little might find some respect on Jupiter. For the third time in 13 months, the sky has fallen on the giant planet. On 20 August, an object hit Jupiter's cloud tops with enough energy to be spied by Earth-based telescopes. This video, taken by amateur astronomer Masayuki Tachikawa of Kumamoto, Japan, shows the moment when the object burned up in the atmosphere (the small flash to the center-left at about 2 seconds). Astronomers watching the event's aftermath found no dark debris cloud, like the one following the impact in July of last year. So the latest impactor must have been as small as the one that hit this past June. Until recently, astronomers thought that significant impacts on Jupiter should occur only about once in a decade. So, these three latest events may force some recalculations about how many objects are passing by the big planet at any given time.

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