Image shows debris from Jupiter impact

This image shows the sharpest visible-light picture taken of the impact feature (dark spot) and "backsplash" of material from a small object that plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere and disintegrated. (NASA)

BALTIMORE -- NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is offering a glimpse of atmospheric debris from an object that plunged into Jupiter in a rare collision with the planet.

Scientists used the telescope Thursday to capture what they call the "sharpest visible-light picture" so far of the expanding gash. An amateur stargazer in Australia noticed the spot last Sunday.

Amy Simon-Miller of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., said an impact of such magnitude is believed to be rare. Simon-Miller estimates the diameter of the object that hit the planet was equal to the length of several football fields.

The debris possibly came from a comet or asteroid.

NASA also said the new images prove repairs done on the Hubble in May were successful.

Comments