Multiple Comet Impacts on Jupiter (1994)

Purplish view of Jupiter with a band of dark impact images around the bottom quarter of the planet.
June 18, 2019
CreditHubble Space Telescope Comet Team and NASA
Historical DateJuly 21, 1994
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Ultraviolet image of Jupiter taken by the Wide Field Camera of the Hubble Space Telescope. The image shows Jupiter's atmosphere at a wavelength of 2550 Angstroms after many impacts by fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

Enhanced view showing impact marks on Jupiter.
Hubble's view of Jupiter on July 21, 1994.
NASA/Hubble Space Telescope Comet Team

The most recent impactor is fragment R which is below the center of Jupiter (third dark spot from the right). This photo was taken 3:55 EDT on July 21, 1994, about 2.5 hours after R's impact.

A large dark patch from the impact of fragment H is visible rising on the morning (left) side. Proceeding to the right, other dark spots were caused by impacts of fragments Ql, R, D and G (now one large spot), and L, with L covering the largest area of any seen thus far. Small dark spots from B, N, and Q2 are visible with careful inspection of the image.

The spots are very dark in the ultraviolet because a large quantity of dust is being deposited high in Jupiter's stratosphere, and the dust absorbs sunlight. Scientists will be able to track winds in the stratosphere by watching the evolution of these features.

Jupiter's moon Io is the dark spot just above the center of the planet.