Around the world, amateur astronomers have been scanning the cloudtops of Jupiter for signs of debris from an explosion
witnessed by Dan Peterson and George Hall on Sept. 10th. So far the cloud layer is blank. "Several observers have now obtained excellent images on the second and third rotations after the fireball, and there is nothing new nor distinctive at the impact site," reports John H. Rogers, director of the Jupiter Section of the British Astronomical Association:
The fireball was probably caused by a small asteroid or comet hitting Jupiter. Apparently, the giant planet swallowed the impactor whole.
When fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter in 1994, each major flash observed by NASA's Galileo spacecraft produced a "bruise," a murky mixture of incinerated comet dust and chemically altered Jovian gas twisting and swirling among the clouds.
In July 2009, amateur astromer Anthony Wesley discovered a similar mark
thought to be debris from a rogue asteroid crashing into the planet. So where is the debris this time? Perhaps the impactor was small, packing just enough punch to make a flash, but without leaving much debris. Indeed, studies suggest
that Jupiter is frequently struck by relatively small 10-meter-class asteroids. In such cases, minimal debris is to be expected.
Stay tuned for updates in case something surfaces.