D/1993 F2 (Shoemaker-Levy 9)

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Christopher K.
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D/1993 F2 (Shoemaker-Levy 9)

Post by Christopher K. » July 14th, 2014, 12:59 pm

BRAS Outreach Chairman Trevor McGuire reminds me in a 7 July email of the upcoming anniversary of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact into the upper cloud decks of Jupiter. The impacts took place from 16 July to 22 July 2004.

Carolyn Shoemaker, Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy were taking part in a routine asteroid survey when in March 1993 they noticed a object on several plates resembling a "bar" with a tail. Still, they reported the object as a comet, which was then named Shoemaker-Levy 9 as it was the ninth comet the team discovered. Later Brian Marsden publicly announced the discovery, further stating it was four degrees from Jupiter, suggesting a proximity. Additional computations revealed the proximity was an actuality. More calculations helped investigators conclude that Shoemaker-Levy passed 0.0008 AU (~120,000 kilometers) from Jupiter on 8 July 1992; this is when most likely it was ripped into over twenty pieces, the largest of which were two or three kilometers across.

The dark "scars" from the impacts were visible for months. The Kuiper Airborne Observatory detected water when Fragments G and K struck. The Catalina Astrophysical Observatory was photometrically monitoring Europa and Io and detected slight brightenings during the impacts of Fragments A and Q. (Also Hubble, Ulysses, Galileo and even Voyager 2 took part in data collection.)

More information:
http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/comet.html
http://www.cometography.com/pcomets/1993f2.html
http://www.daviddarling.info/encycloped ... -Levy.html
Essential Cosmic Perspective (third edition), by Bennett/Donahue/Schneider/Voit, pp. 248-249.

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