This week on HST

HST Programs: July 20 - July 26, 2009

SMOV still under way, but science observations being made.

Program Number Principal Investigator Program Title Links
11603 Jennifer Andrews, Louisiana State University and A & M College A Comprehensive Study of Dust Formation in Type II Supernovae with HST, Spitzer and Gemini Abstract
11604 David Axon, Rochester Institute of Technology The Nuclear Structure of OH Megamaser Galaxies Abstract
11704 Brian Chaboyer, Dartmouth College The Ages of Globular Clusters and the Population II Distance Scale Abstract
11788 George Fritz Benedict, University of Texas at Austin The Architecture of Exoplanetary Systems Abstract
12003 Heidi Hammel, Space Science Institute The Impact Event on Jupiter in 2009 Abstract

Selected highlights

GO 12003: The Impact Event on Jupiter in 2009

HST WFC3 observations of the comet scar on Jupiter One of HST's most cited set of observations was the series of images taken in July 1994 as the dishevelled remnants of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter. That event highlighted the catastrophic consequences of cosmic impacts, and sparked considerable interest in identifying earth-crossing asteroids and comets. Fifteen years later, on 19 July 2009, an Australian amateur astronomer, Anthony Wesley, noticed a strange dark 'scar" near Jupiter's southern pole. The feature was quickly confirmed by other astronomers, both amateur and professional, and was quickly judged as likely to be the result of another, completely unexpected, cometary impact. The SL9 impact was thought to be a once-in-a-lifetime (if not more) event; clearly, the impact rate is higher than previously suspected. At the time of the new event, HST was deeply immersed in the initial on-orbit instrument performance tests, but the science staff were able to interrupt those procedures for a few orbits to obtain images with Wide-Field Camera 3. Further observatio9ns will be obtained at a later date to track the evolution of the feature, as Jovian winds disperse the detritus through the atmosphere.

Past weeks:
page by Neill Reid, updated 30/3/2009