Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision

Jul 04, 2005
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope captured the dramatic effects of the collision early July 4 between a 370-kilogram projectile released by the Deep Impact spacecraft and comet 9P/Tempel 1.

This sequence of images shows the comet before and after the impact. The image at left shows the comet about a minute before the impact. The encounter occurred at 7:52 a.m. CEST.

In the middle image, captured 15 minutes after the collision, Tempel 1 appears four times brighter than in the pre-impact photo. Astronomers noticed that the inner cloud of dust and gas surrounding the comet's nucleus increased by about 200 kilometres in size. The impact caused a brilliant flash of light and a constant increase in the brightness of the inner cloud of dust and gas.

The Hubble telescope continued to monitor the comet, snapping another image [at right] 62 minutes after the encounter. In this photo, the gas and dust ejected during the impact are expanding outward in the shape of a fan. The fan-shaped debris is travelling at about 1,800 kilometres an hour, or twice as fast as the speed of a commercial jet. The debris extends about 1,800 kilometres from the nucleus.

The potato-shaped comet is 14 kilometres wide and 4 kilometres long. Tempel 1's nucleus is too small even for the Hubble telescope to resolve.

The visible-light images were taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys' High Resolution Camera.

Source: ESA
Image Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Feldman (Johns Hopkins University) and H. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

Explore further: NASA's Webb Telescope mirror tripod in action (Video)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Rosetta continues into its full science phase

Nov 20, 2014

With the Philae lander's mission complete, Rosetta will now continue its own extraordinary exploration, orbiting Comet 67P/Churymov–Gerasimenko during the coming year as the enigmatic body arcs ever closer ...

Lutetia's dark side hosts hidden crater

Oct 08, 2014

Grooves found on Lutetia, an asteroid encountered by ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, point to the existence of a large impact crater on the unseen side of the rocky world.

Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J

Sep 15, 2014

(Phys.org) —Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J, an intriguing region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk ...

Recommended for you

DNA survives critical entry into Earth's atmosphere

12 hours ago

The genetic material DNA can survive a flight through space and re-entry into the earth's atmosphere—and still pass on genetic information. A team of scientists from UZH obtained these astonishing results ...

Team develops cognitive test battery for spaceflight

12 hours ago

Space is one of the most demanding and unforgiving environments. Human exploration of space requires astronauts to maintain consistently high levels of cognitive performance to ensure mission safety and success, and prevent ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.