Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9

Alan Fitzsimmons, P.J. Andrews, R. Catchpole, J.E. Little, N. Walton, Iwan Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Collisions between small bodies (such as asteroids and comets) and the terrestrial planets are known to throw ejecta far beyond the point of impact. But until the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter in July 1994 (refs 1, 2), there had been no opportunity to study the effects of such collisions on gas-giant planets. Here we present optical spectra obtained during the collision of fragments L and Ql with Jupiter. We observed emission lines from sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese and chromium as the ejecta plume fell back onto Jupiter's atmosphere. All of these elements are expected to occur only very deep in Jupiter's atmosphere - considerably below the depth to which the fragments penetrated-, suggesting that the material responsible for the emissions originated almost entirely in the comet itself. The initial phase of emission is associated with heating of the impact ejecta as it fell back onto the planet. A second, later phase of emission was also observed, which we associate with grains of silicate dust that condensed within the cooling fireball and subsequently re-entered, meteor-like, into Jupiter's atmosphere.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)801-804
JournalNature
Volume379
Issue number6568
Publication statusPublished - 29 Feb 1996

Fingerprint

reentry
Jupiter atmosphere
ablation
plumes
ejecta
dust
fragments
comets
Jupiter (planet)
collisions
Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet
gas giant planets
terrestrial planets
fireballs
meteoroids
asteroids
optical spectrum
magnesium
manganese
planets

Cite this

Fitzsimmons, A., Andrews, P. J., Catchpole, R., Little, J. E., Walton, N., & Williams, I. (1996). Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9. Nature, 379(6568), 801-804.
Fitzsimmons, Alan ; Andrews, P.J. ; Catchpole, R. ; Little, J.E. ; Walton, N. ; Williams, Iwan. / Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9. In: Nature. 1996 ; Vol. 379, No. 6568. pp. 801-804.
@article{0c75f06234bd42948c4109a9700afeaa,
title = "Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9",
abstract = "Collisions between small bodies (such as asteroids and comets) and the terrestrial planets are known to throw ejecta far beyond the point of impact. But until the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter in July 1994 (refs 1, 2), there had been no opportunity to study the effects of such collisions on gas-giant planets. Here we present optical spectra obtained during the collision of fragments L and Ql with Jupiter. We observed emission lines from sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese and chromium as the ejecta plume fell back onto Jupiter's atmosphere. All of these elements are expected to occur only very deep in Jupiter's atmosphere - considerably below the depth to which the fragments penetrated-, suggesting that the material responsible for the emissions originated almost entirely in the comet itself. The initial phase of emission is associated with heating of the impact ejecta as it fell back onto the planet. A second, later phase of emission was also observed, which we associate with grains of silicate dust that condensed within the cooling fireball and subsequently re-entered, meteor-like, into Jupiter's atmosphere.",
author = "Alan Fitzsimmons and P.J. Andrews and R. Catchpole and J.E. Little and N. Walton and Iwan Williams",
year = "1996",
month = "2",
day = "29",
language = "English",
volume = "379",
pages = "801--804",
journal = "Nature",
issn = "0028-0836",
publisher = "NATURE PUBLISHING GROUP",
number = "6568",

}

Fitzsimmons, A, Andrews, PJ, Catchpole, R, Little, JE, Walton, N & Williams, I 1996, 'Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9', Nature, vol. 379, no. 6568, pp. 801-804.

Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9. / Fitzsimmons, Alan; Andrews, P.J.; Catchpole, R.; Little, J.E.; Walton, N.; Williams, Iwan.

In: Nature, Vol. 379, No. 6568, 29.02.1996, p. 801-804.

Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

TY - JOUR

T1 - Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9

AU - Fitzsimmons, Alan

AU - Andrews, P.J.

AU - Catchpole, R.

AU - Little, J.E.

AU - Walton, N.

AU - Williams, Iwan

PY - 1996/2/29

Y1 - 1996/2/29

N2 - Collisions between small bodies (such as asteroids and comets) and the terrestrial planets are known to throw ejecta far beyond the point of impact. But until the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter in July 1994 (refs 1, 2), there had been no opportunity to study the effects of such collisions on gas-giant planets. Here we present optical spectra obtained during the collision of fragments L and Ql with Jupiter. We observed emission lines from sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese and chromium as the ejecta plume fell back onto Jupiter's atmosphere. All of these elements are expected to occur only very deep in Jupiter's atmosphere - considerably below the depth to which the fragments penetrated-, suggesting that the material responsible for the emissions originated almost entirely in the comet itself. The initial phase of emission is associated with heating of the impact ejecta as it fell back onto the planet. A second, later phase of emission was also observed, which we associate with grains of silicate dust that condensed within the cooling fireball and subsequently re-entered, meteor-like, into Jupiter's atmosphere.

AB - Collisions between small bodies (such as asteroids and comets) and the terrestrial planets are known to throw ejecta far beyond the point of impact. But until the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 hit Jupiter in July 1994 (refs 1, 2), there had been no opportunity to study the effects of such collisions on gas-giant planets. Here we present optical spectra obtained during the collision of fragments L and Ql with Jupiter. We observed emission lines from sodium, magnesium, calcium, iron, manganese and chromium as the ejecta plume fell back onto Jupiter's atmosphere. All of these elements are expected to occur only very deep in Jupiter's atmosphere - considerably below the depth to which the fragments penetrated-, suggesting that the material responsible for the emissions originated almost entirely in the comet itself. The initial phase of emission is associated with heating of the impact ejecta as it fell back onto the planet. A second, later phase of emission was also observed, which we associate with grains of silicate dust that condensed within the cooling fireball and subsequently re-entered, meteor-like, into Jupiter's atmosphere.

M3 - Letter

VL - 379

SP - 801

EP - 804

JO - Nature

JF - Nature

SN - 0028-0836

IS - 6568

ER -

Fitzsimmons A, Andrews PJ, Catchpole R, Little JE, Walton N, Williams I. Re-entry and ablation of cometary dust in the impact plumes of Shoemaker-Levy 9. Nature. 1996 Feb 29;379(6568):801-804.