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Calar Alto Image of Impact Sites on Jupiter


Jupiter, Europa, and Io

Lost for almost three months in the glare of the Sun, Jupiter was imaged by MPIA astronomers on December 21, using the MAGIC infrared camera on the Calar Alto 3.5 meter telescope.

This image shows a continuous band in the southern mid-latitudes corresponding to the location of the impact sites of Comet SL-9. The sites are now completely blended in longitude, a process that Calar Alto astronomers (and others) observed over the two months following the collisions. The astronomers tuned the MAGIC camera to the 1.7 micron methane absorption feature to darken the jovian cloud deck and maximize contrast between the impact structures and the planetary disk. The band probably consists of material thrown far above the ammonia clouds of Jupiter during the July impact of the fragmented Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. The band has not faded significantly since September, indicating that this ejecta may take years to settle out of the upper atmosphere.

Image Information:

21 December 1994, 7:00 UT
MAGIC Infrared Camera (256x256 HgCdTe Detector); 1.7 um CH4 absorption filter 3.5 m f/10 Calar Alto Telescope; 0.81 arcseconds / pixel

Picture Credits: Tom Herbst, Peter Bizenberger, Steve Beckwith, Dave Thompson, (Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astronomie)), Doug Hamilton, (Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik)

Contact People: Tom Herbst, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Astronomie, Heidelberg Doug Hamilton, Max-Planck-Institut fuer Kernphysik, Heidelberg

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