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Hubble Image of Fragment A Impact


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Image of Jupiter's cloudtops after the impact of the first fragment (A) of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on 16 July. A violet (410 nm) filter of the Wide Field Camera 2 of the Hubble Space Telescope was used to make the image, which was taken at 5:32 EDT on 16 July 1994, 1.5 hours after the impact.

The impact site is visible as a dark streak and crescent-shaped feature, several thousand kilometers in size, in the lower left of the image. The comet entered the atmosphere from the south in the direction of the streak at an angle of about 45 degrees from the vertical. The crescent-shaped feature may be the remains of the plume that was ejected back along the entry path of the projectile. The features are probably dark particles from the comet, or possibly condensates dredged up from Jupiter's deep atmosphere.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 broke up during a close passage by Jupiter in July of 1992. The fragments will continue to impact the planet through 22 July 1994. Pre-encounter estimates of the energy of the impact are highly uncertain, and range up to that of a million hydrogen bombs (a million megatons of TNT).

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