heic0509 - Photo Release

Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet

4 July 2005

This series of Hubble Space Telescope images captures the ejection of a bright plume of dust following the July 4 collision between an 370 kilogram projectile released by the Deep Impact spacecraft and comet 9P/Tempel 1. The image sequence dramatically shows the evolution of material that was blasted off the comet as it expands and diffuses into interplanetary space.

The sequence of images shows the fan-shaped ejecta expanding at 720 kilometres an hour over a 24-hour period following impact. The upper-left image shows the comet several minutes before impact. The encounter occurred at 7:52 CEST 4 July.

The middle, top image shows that just 12 minutes after the collision, the innermost coma of dust appears 10 times brighter than in the pre-impact photo. The impact caused a brilliant flash of light and a constant increase in the brightness of the inner cloud of dust.

The Hubble telescope continued to monitor the comet, snapping another image [upper right] an hour after the encounter. In this photo, the dust ejected during the impact is expanding outward in the shape of a fan. The debris extends about 720 kilometres from the nucleus. This expansion continues through the bottom series of photos. In the bottom, centre photo, the cloud is 3,200 kilometres across. The last picture in the sequence shows the cloud becoming more diffuse.

The potato-shaped comet is about 13 kilometres long and 4 kilometres wide. Tempel 1's nucleus is too small for the Hubble telescope to resolve. Instead, the bright central region is a combination of light reflected from the nucleus and from dust in the immediate region around the nucleus.

The visible-light images were taken by the Advanced Camera for Surveys' High Resolution Camera.

Notes

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, P. Feldman (Johns Hopkins University) and H. Weaver (Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory)

Links

Contacts

Lars Lindberg Christensen
Hubble European Space Agency Information Centre, Garching, Germany
Tel: +49-(0)89-3200-6306
Cellular: +49-(0)173-3872-621
E-mail: lars@eso.org

P. Feldman
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA
Tel: +1-410-516-7339
E-mail: pdf@pha.jhu.edu

Hal Weaver
Johns Hopkins University/Applied Physics Lab, Laurel, USA
Tel: +1-443-778-8078
E-mail: hal.weaver@jhuapl.edu

Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, USA
Tel: +1-410-338-4514
E-mail: villard@stsci.edu

About the Release

Release No.:heic0509

Images

Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 3 min before impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 3 min before impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 12 minutes after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 12 minutes after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 64 minutes after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 64 minutes after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 88 minutes after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 88 minutes after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 4h41 after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 4h41 after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 19h7 after impact)
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet (view 19h7 after impact)
Hubble Images Comet Tempel 1 Just Before Deep Impact Probe Arrives
Hubble Images Comet Tempel 1 Just Before Deep Impact Probe Arrives

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Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with comet
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with comet

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Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet
Hubble captures Deep Impact's collision with a comet

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