The space rock that hit the moon at 61,000 kilometers an hour

The space rock that hit the moon at 61,000 kilometers an hour
The flash from the impact of the meteorite on the eclipsed Moon, seen as the dot at top left, as recorded by two of the telescopes operating in the framework of the MIDAS Survey from Sevilla (Spain) on 2019 January 21. Credit: J. M. Madiedo / MIDAS

Observers watching January's total eclipse of the Moon saw a rare event, a short-lived flash as a meteorite hit the lunar surface. Spanish astronomers now think the space rock collided with the Moon at 61,000 kilometres an hour, excavating a crater 10 to 15 metres across. Prof Jose Maria Madiedo of the University of Huelva, and Dr. Jose L. Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, publish their results in a new paper in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Total lunar eclipses take place when the Moon moves completely into the shadow of the Earth. The Moon takes on a red colour—the result of scattered sunlight refracted through the Earth's atmosphere—but is much darker than normal. These spectacular events are regularly observed by astronomers and the wider public alike.

The most recent lunar eclipse took place on 21 January 2019, with observers in North and South America and Western Europe enjoying the best view. At 0441 GMT, just after the total phase of the eclipse began, a flash was seen on the lunar . Widespread reports from amateur astronomers indicated the flash—attributed to a —was bright enough to be seen with the .

Madiedo and Ortiz operate the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS), using eight telescopes in south of Spain to monitor the lunar surface. Video footage from MIDAS recorded the moment of impact.

The impact flash lasted 0.28 seconds and is the first ever filmed during a lunar eclipse, despite a number of earlier attempts.

The space rock that hit the moon at 61,000 kilometers an hour
The flash from the impact of the meteorite on the eclipsed Moon, seen as the dot at top left (indicated by the arrow in the image), as recorded by two of the telescopes operating in the framework of the MIDAS Survey from Sevilla (Spain) on 2019 January 21. Credit: J. M. Madiedo / MIDAS

"Something inside of me told me that this time would be the time", said Madiedo, who was impressed when he observed the event, as it was brighter than most of the events regularly detected by the survey.

Unlike the Earth, the Moon has no atmosphere to protect it and so even small rocks can hit its surface. Since these impacts take place at huge speeds, the rocks are instantaneously vaporised at the impact site, producing an expanding plume of debris whose glow can be detected from our planet as short-duration flashes.

MIDAS telescopes observed the impact at multiple wavelengths (different colours of light), improving the analysis of the event. Madiedo and Ortiz conclude that the incoming rock had a mass of 45kg, measured 30 to 60 centimetres across, and hit the surface at 61,000 kilometres an hour. The impact site is close to the crater Lagrange H, near the west-south-west portion of the lunar limb.

The two scientists assess the energy as equivalent to 1.5 tonnes of TNT, enough to create a crater up to 15 metres across, or about the size of two double decker buses side by side. The debris ejected is estimated to have reached a peak temperature of 5400 degrees Celsius, roughly the same as the surface of the Sun.

Madiedo comments: "It would be impossible to reproduce these high-speed collisions in a lab on Earth. Observing flashes is a great way to test our ideas on exactly what happens when a meteorite collides with the Moon."

The team plan to continue monitoring meteorite impacts on the , not least to understand the risk they present to astronauts, set to return to the Moon in the next decade.


Explore further

Astronomers spot record-breaking lunar impact

More information: "Multiwavelength observations of a bright impact flash during the January 2019 total lunar eclipse", J. M. Madiedo, J. L. Ortiz, N. Morales and P. Santos-Sanz, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Oxford University Press, in press. doi.org/10.1093/mnras/stz932 , ras.ac.uk/sites/default/files/ … adiedo%20et%20al.pdf
Citation: The space rock that hit the moon at 61,000 kilometers an hour (2019, April 30) retrieved 16 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-space-moon-kilometers-hour.html
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Apr 30, 2019
A thing hit the moon. Neat. Next!

Apr 30, 2019
After billions of years of meteorites and other space debris hitting the Moon's surface, the Moon must have acquired considerable weight from an incoming buildup amounting into tonnage adding to its regolith. Wondering if after billions more years of the same, will Earth's gravitational pull draw the Moon closer?

Apr 30, 2019
After billions of years of meteorites and other space debris hitting the Moon's surface, the Moon must have acquired considerable weight from an incoming buildup amounting into tonnage adding to its regolith. Wondering if after billions more years of the same, will Earth's gravitational pull draw the Moon closer?


The acquired mass from such sources is infinitesimal compared to the mass of the Earth and Moon. The Moon is getting further from Earth by a few cm per year.

https://www.bbc.c...12311119

Apr 30, 2019
After billions of years of meteorites and other space debris hitting the Moon's surface, the Moon must have acquired considerable weight from an incoming buildup amounting into tonnage adding to its regolith. Wondering if after billions more years of the same, will Earth's gravitational pull draw the Moon closer?
pussytard trolls the past once again...
I think that it may not be a good idea for anyone to do any mining for resources on the Moon where those resources are taken away, possibly back to Earth... The pull of the Moon controls the ebb and flow of the tides, so that if a certain amount of matter is removed from the Moon, it might make a difference in tidal action on Earth, even if only a small difference."
-Remember that lunar cowpie? Same thorough lack of knowledge, reason, common sense.

You're a fake arent you? Nobody's this stupid unless they're pretending to be.

Apr 30, 2019
You're a fake arent you? Nobody's this stupid unless they're pretending to be.


Benni?

Apr 30, 2019
A thing hit the moon. Neat. Next!


While we do want to know more (spectra would have been nice, but color filters work for me), this is already an interesting one. The Earth-Moon system orbits the Sun at an average 30 km/s, this rock hit at half that which is uncommonly low for an asteroid. (IIRC asteroid Earth impactor velocity distribution peaks at 20-30 km/s between their own solar orbit speed and ours). Or comet (IIRC comet Earth impactor velocity distribution peaks at 50-70 km/s as they get closer to Sun in their wide elliptic orbits.)

Perhaps a comet that we caught up with, like a fly splatting on a car window.

Apr 30, 2019
A thing hit the moon. Neat. Next!


While we do want to know more (spectra would have been nice, but color filters work for me), this is already an interesting one. The Earth-Moon system orbits the Sun at an average 30 km/s, this rock hit at half that which is uncommonly low for an asteroid. (IIRC asteroid Earth impactor velocity distribution peaks at 20-30 km/s between their own solar orbit speed and ours). Or comet (IIRC comet Earth impactor velocity distribution peaks at 50-70 km/s as they get closer to Sun in their wide elliptic orbits.)

Perhaps a comet that we caught up with, like a fly splatting on a car window.


Yep. ~ 17 km/s. Quite low, really.

Apr 30, 2019
Well torbjorn & castro, I sort bof agree with your assertions averaging the estimated speeds of known meteors, asteroids & comets.

But as you pointed out, the speed accelerates when being pulled in towards the Sun.

Then as they fly away, the Sun's constant pull starts slowing the rocks down.

It is interesting that the average speed was 25,000 KmH for the recorded extra-Solar visitors entering the outer edge of our System? Coming & going.

Will that be an average to expect for future interstellar visitors?

Could this average hold true for stellar & interstellar debris in this current of this Arm of the Milky Way?

Apr 30, 2019
After billions of years of meteorites and other space debris hitting the Moon's surface, the Moon must have acquired considerable weight from an incoming buildup amounting into tonnage adding to its regolith. Wondering if after billions more years of the same, will Earth's gravitational pull draw the Moon closer?


The acquired mass from such sources is infinitesimal compared to the mass of the Earth and Moon. The Moon is getting further from Earth by a few cm per year.

https://www.bbc.c...12311119
says jonesy

As I said, jonesy, 'billions more years of the same'. There is no data that I could find that would indicate the actual weight of the Moon after it was blasted out of Earth billions of years ago. What we see NOW with all of its craters is the result of those billions of years getting hit with space debris since the Moon's 'genesis'. I will look up its estimated weight and watch for it to acquire more.

Apr 30, 2019
You're a fake arent you? Nobody's this stupid unless they're pretending to be.


Benni?
says Castrovagina

@jonesy
SpookyOtto1923 had been harassing rrwillsj until I basically told him sometime in 2017/2018 that williejoe has every right to state her opinions. So then he started coming after ME, saying that I'm a female Black psychiatrist who owns a farm. Otto is obviously a mental institution patient who is allowed to use the internet and has wound up in physorg and the administrators can't get rid of him. rrwillsj is now also harassing me with silly crap nonsense.
I have already told you that I am but a mere scholar and interested observer and have never owned a farm and I am not Russian, though someday I might own a starship and use my anti-gravity technology. Unfortunately, my human host will not live long enough to see it happen and I will have to find an appropriate and willing human host again.

May 01, 2019
As I said, jonesy, 'billions more years of the same'. There is no data that I could find that would indicate the actual weight of the Moon after it was blasted out of Earth billions of years ago. What we see NOW with all of its craters is the result of those billions of years getting hit with space debris since the Moon's 'genesis'. I will look up its estimated weight and watch for it to acquire more.


And as I said, you crank, the mass acquired is infinitesimal. Only an idiot could fail to understand that.

https://scitechda...ry-year/

May 01, 2019
Meanwhile, in China, the boffins at CNSA celebrated their first Moon fireworks display.

May 01, 2019
though someday I might own a starship and use my anti-gravity technology. Unfortunately, my human host will not live long enough to see it happen and I will have to find an appropriate and willing human host again
Yeah see that? Youre a FAKE pretending to be a crackpot.

MODS GET RID OF THIS ANIMAL

May 01, 2019
To Shed a Ghostly Tear

For billions
For Aeons
this earth
has withstood this barrage out this vacuum
untold trillions of neutrinos
untold trillions of muons
untold trillions of cosmic rays
gamma rays
solar wind
meteorites
thousands daily
for untold billion upon billion years
pilling into this earthly regolith
this landmass, this watery ocean
all these ingredients
raining down this earth
for time immortal
these ingredients of life
adding to this earthly mass
whereas this earth emerged out this vacuum
followed by this enormous mass of material
adding to this total mass of material
from out this vacuum this material emerged
sufficient in mass to create 2 Trillion Stars our Milkyway
now
we have knowledgeable upstarts
lecturing one and all
saying out of trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion endless mass thateth maketh our Milkyway
there is insufficient mass to add to these planetary bodies
where
This mass is in endless abundance in this vacuum

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