Following the alert by Australian amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley, professional astronomers have been able to confirm the impact nature of the new dark spot appeared on July 19th on the surface on Jupiter. See our previous post for more information about this event.
The clue arrived from near-infrared image of the upper atmosphere above the impact site:
"An impact would make a splash like a stone thrown into a pool, scattering material in the atmosphere upwards. This material would then reflect sunlight, appearing as a bright spot at near-infrared wavelengths"
"Our first image showed a really bright object right where that black scar was, and immediately we knew this was an impact," astronomer Glenn Orton says. "There's no natural phenomenon that creates a black spot and bright particles like that."
Below the image captured on July 20, 2009, by NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility in Mauna Kea (click on the image for a bigger version):
Below the image captured by the Keck II telescope in Hawai (click on the image for a bigger version):
Below the image of the discoverer of the impact dark spot, Anthony Wesley, with his telescope:
UPDATE - June 03, 2010
NASA's Hubble Space Telescope imaged the dark spot caused by the impact of a comet or an asteroid. The first image is dated back to July 23, 2009. Other images taken in the following months showed how the dark spot changed day to day in the planet's cloud tops (click on the images below for a bigger version - Images Credit: NASA, ESA, and H. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), and the Jupiter Impact Team).
by Ernesto Guido