Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

July 14, 1995
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Comet Impacts on Jupiter
Picture Credit: NASA, Hubble Space Telescope

Explanation: In July of 1994, pieces of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, also known as the "string of pearls" comet, collided with the planet Jupiter. As the comet fragments smashed in to Jupiter, the resulting explosions scattered large quantities of dusty cometary debris into the Jovian atmosphere. The clouds of debris created the multiple dark smudges visible in this picture. Jupiter's rotation causes the successive impact sites to be strung out along the cloud bands while the strong winds cause the appearance of the smudges to change with time. Jupiter's famous red spot is also visible to the left of center.

For more information about the picture see comments by the Hubble Space Telescope Comet Team.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day is brought to you by Robert Nemiroff and Jerry Bonnell . Original material on this page is copyrighted to Robert J. Nemiroff and Jerry T. Bonnell.