Hubble Ultraviolet Image of Multiple Comet Impacts on Jupiter
February 5, 2005
Ultraviolet image of Jupiter taken by the Wide Field Camera of the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows Jupiter's atmosphere at a wavelength of 2550 Angstroms after many impacts by fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. The most recent impactor is fragment R which is below the center of Jupiter (third dark spot from the right). This photo was taken 3:55 EDT on July 21, about 2.5 hours after R's impact. A large dark patch from the impact of fragment H is visible rising on the morning (left) side. Proceeding to the right, other dark spots were caused by impacts of fragments Ql, R, D and G (now one large spot), and L, with L covering the largest area of any seen thus far. Small dark spots from B, N, and Q2 are visible with careful inspection of the image. The spots are very dark in the ultraviolet because a large quantity of dust is being deposited high in Jupiter's stratosphere, and the dust absorbs sunlight. Scientists will be able to track winds in the stratosphere by watching the evolution of these features. Jupiter's moon Io is the dark spot just above the center of the planet.
Topics: Impact events, Jupiter, Planetary science, Exploration of Jupiter, Atmosphere, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, Comet, Hubble Space Telescope, Io, Space exploration