Tuesday, March 21, 2023

NASA DART Spacecraft Impact: Cloud of Debris at Asteroid Dimorphos

NASA DART Spacecraft Impact: Cloud of Debris at Asteroid Dimorphos

This image shows a total of 16 small images in a four by four grid, each taken on a different date. At the center of each image is a light blue fuzzy dot over a black background. In the first image the dot is surrounded by a diffuse halo, which morphs into different structures before eventually becoming a long tail pointing towards the right in the last image.

This series of images, taken with the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, shows the evolution of the cloud of debris that was ejected when NASA’s DART spacecraft collided with the asteroid Dimorphos.

The first image was taken on September 26, 2022, just before the impact, and the last one was taken almost one month later on October 25, 2022. Over this period several structures developed: clumps, spirals, and a long tail of dust pushed away by the Sun’s radiation. The white arrow in each panel marks the direction of the Sun.

Dimorphos orbits a larger asteroid called Didymos. The white horizontal bar corresponds to 500 kilometers, but the asteroids are only 1 kilometer apart, so they cannot be discerned in these images.

The background streaks seen here are due to the apparent movement of the background stars during the observations while the telescope was tracking the asteroid pair.

Credit: ESO/Opitom et al.

Release Date: March 21, 2023

#NASA #Space #Astronomy #ESO #Science #DARTMission #DARTSpacecraft #Asteroids #Dimorphos #Didymos #Earth #PlanetaryDefense #PlanetaryDefenseTest #SolarSystem #JHUAPL #UnitedStates #VLT #Telescope #Chile #SouthAmerica #Europe #STEM #Education

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