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Jupiter, in pastel colors because the observation was taken in near-infrared light, experiences a rare alignment of three of its large moons; Io, Ganymede, and Callisto.

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Impact 2009!!

    What Hit Jupiter?

    On July 19th, 2009, amateur astronomer Anthony Wesley of Australia noticed a new "black scar" on Jupiter. He reported his findings to professional scientists who confirmed that Jupiter was indeed hit by an unknown object and that the black scar is actually a debris field created from the impact.

    A brown scar marks the spot where a comet or an asteroid struck Jupiter in July 2009.
    Jupiter - July 23, 2009
    Hubble Space Telescope
    Wide Field Camera 3
    Scientists all over the world have begun studying the impact site to look for clues to try and find out what hit Jupiter.

    Using NASA Hubble Space Telescope imagery, scientists were able to measure the size of the scar to be about twice the size of the United States.

    Comparing this new scar to the scars created during the 1994 impacts from the 21 fragments of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, scientists estimate the size of the object that hit Jupiter to be approximately a few hundred meters in diameter.

    Scientists are collecting data of the scar at different wavelengths to study the chemical composition and evolution of the debris cloud, which may provide clues about the impactor, as well as the atmosphere.

    Image of Multiple P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 Comet Impacts on Jupiter
    Image of fragments of the comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 on a collision course with Jupiter.
    Shoemaker-Levy 9 Comet Impact of 1994

    Increased levels of ammonia gas have been detected but are thought to have been brought up from below the clouds during the impact.

    Due to Jupiter's strong winds, the 2009 impact scar will soon disappear into Jupiter just as the Shoemaker-Levy 9 clouds did in 1994. Until then scientists will continue to study the impact's debris and by comparing past and future images will be able to study Jupiter's strong winds high above the clouds.


    Electromagnetic Spectrum with arrow indicating near-infrared. An infrared image of a Jupiter impact that occured on July 19, 2009. Impact particles high in Jupiter's atmosphere appear white in
    this near-infrared image taken of the impact site from NASA's
    Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii. The impact site is
    warmer than the area around it.


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