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CTIO Image of Fragment A , D, E & F Impacts


This image shows the aftermath of the impacts of several of the fragments of Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter. The image was taken in infrared light with a wavelength of 2.3 microns, which is strongly absorbed by methane in Jupiter's atmosphere.

The impact sites are the four bright spots at high southern latitudes, not to be confused with the Great Red Spot which is visible closer to the equator. The site of impact A is just rotating into view on the lower left: it is over 30 hours old but is still conspicuous. To its right is a very large, bright and complex double spot which we do not fully understand yet: it is probably some combination of the fragment E impact site, about 12 hours old, and the nearby site of the fragment F impact, only two hours old. On the right side of Jupiter, about to rotate out of view, is the site of the fragment D impact, about 15 hours old.

The impact sites, and the other features visible in this image, are so conspicuous because they include very high altitude clouds, perhaps composed of material blasted up from the deep atmosphere by the impacts: these reflect light before it can be absorbed by the methane at lower altitudes.

Technical details: Image taken at 2:30 UT on July 18, 1994, with the Ohio State Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (OSIRIS) at the 4-meter telescope of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, by John Spencer (Lowell Observatory), and Darren DePoy and Jay Frogel (Ohio State University).

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