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Hubble Image of Fragment A Impact


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This image of the aftermath of the collision of fragment A of P/S-L9 with Jupiter is similar to the violet (410 nanometer) image, except that the filter used enhances features containing methane.

The impact site is visible as a light 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 combined impacts are highly uncertain, and range up to that of a million hydrogen bombs (a million megatons of TNT).

Jupiter was approximately 477 million miles (767 million kilometers) from Earth when the image was taken.

Credit: H. Hammel, MIT and NASA

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