Hubble Space Telescope Observations of Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 (1993e)

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid

Abstract

The Hubble Space Telescope observed the fragmented comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 (1993e) (P indicates that it is a periodic comet) on 1 July 1993. Approximately 20 individual nuclei and their comae were observed in images taken with the Planetary Camera. After subtraction of the comae light, the 11 brightest nuclei have magnitudes between approximate 23.7 and 24.8. Assuming that the geometric albedo is 0.04, these magnitudes imply that the nuclear diameters are in the range approximate 2.5 to 4.3 kilometers. If the density of each nucleus is 1 gram per cubic centimeter, the total energy deposited by the impact of these 11 nuclei into Jupiter's atmosphere next July will be approximate 4 times 1030 ergs (approximate 108 megatons of TNT). This latter number should be regarded as an upper limit because the nuclear magnitudes probably contain a small residual coma contribution. The Faint Object Spectrograph was used to search for fluorescence from OH, which is usually an excellent indicator of cometary activity. No OH emission was detected, and this can be translated into an upper limit on the water production rate of approximate 2 times 1027 molecules per second.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles