Collision of a comet with Jupiter: Determination of fragment penetration depths from the molecular spectra


After the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 fell onto Jupiter, some molecules which were formed as a result of chemical reactions in the shock-compressed gas during the explosion of the comet fragments and ejected into the upper atmosphere by the shock wave were observed in the upper atmosphere. As the initially hot gas expanded, these molecules were quenched. Therefore they represent a kind of “memory” of the shock processes which occurred in the region of generation of the strong shock wave. The radiation from such molecules was registered by both ground-based observers and the Hubble space telescope. In the present paper we estimate the penetration depth and energy of the largest comet fragments on the basis of data on the content of shock-synthesized molecules in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere.

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Pis’ma Zh. Éksp. Teor. Fiz. 63, No. 6, 387–391 (25 March 1996)

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Berezhnoi, A.A., Shevchenko, V.V., Klumov, B.A. et al. Collision of a comet with Jupiter: Determination of fragment penetration depths from the molecular spectra. Jetp Lett. 63, 405–410 (1996).

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  • Radiation
  • Spectroscopy
  • Atmosphere
  • State Physics
  • Shock Wave