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IRTF Images of Fragment R Impact


These are images of the fireball associated with the R fragment of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, obtained with the MIRAC Mid Infrared Array Camera at the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea. The three images are 2-second exposures at 7.85, 10.3, and 12.2 microns, characteristic of methane, ammonia and hydrogen in Jupiter's atmosphere, respectively. They were obtained about 15 minutes after the predicted impact time during the rise in brightness of the explosion fireball. At maximum, the fireball surface brightness was about 50 times that of Jupiter. The images are displayed with logrithmic scaling in order to display the full range of brightness. The multiple thermal wavelengths will help determine the temperature evolution of the plume and distinguish between gasous and particulate emission.

The images were obtained by the NASA/IRTF Shoemaker-Levy Science Team.

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