Last January, the astronomers were able to capture the moment a space rock struck the Moon during a total lunar eclipse. Now we know more about this unprecedented event, including the speed of the object & # 39 broke and intense temperatures achieved during the impact.
Our Moon gets hit by bits of debris left over from the formation of the solar system on a regular basis. But our natural satellite has no atmosphere to speak of, so heavenly about the & # 39; objects of different sizes smooth, crashing into the lunar surface at tremendous speeds. Astronomers were able to capture an odd lunar influence over the years, but one captured during the total lunar eclipse of January 21, 2019 are the first to science.
A new study published last week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, sheds new light on this unique event, including updated estimates of the rate and size of the meteorite, the amount of energy expelled during the impact and the size of the new lunar crater.
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For leading the new study's authors, Jose Madiedo University of Huelva and Jose Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, the event was the culmination of several years of preparation, not to mention years of great patience. Madiedo Ortiz and involved the identification and analysis of system impacts the Moon (MIDAS), which uses a series of telescopes and software for detecting the time of meteoroids hits the darkened areas of the lunar surface. MIDAS telescopes, cameras equipped with high sensitivity (the system can detect flashes as short as 0.001 second), along with photometric filters that are used to determine the temperature of the resulting impacts.
MIDAS was able to capture many lunar impacts since the system was put into operation at the end of the 1990s, but the flash captured during the total lunar eclipse in January last year, precious and fleeting moments when the Earth casts a shadow on the entire surface of the Moon -It first to project.
"This is the first time that the effects of the flash can be uniquely written during a lunar eclipse, and is discussed in the scientific literature, and for the first time, that the lunar impact flashes observation in more than two wavelengths, reportedly," writes the author of a new study, as already noted , MIDAS telescopes captured event at several wavelengths of light or different colors of light, producing a kind of high-precision exposure playback.
As an added benefit, telescopes around the world were trained on the moon at this very moment, to kill those providing the data that were used in the new analysis.
Well, on the good stuff, the actual results.
The impact produced a flash that lasted for a very short 0.28 seconds, and he was as bright as magnitude 4.2 star, which means that it was visible to the naked eye. The space rock struck near the Moon Lagrange H of the crater, which is located near the southwest limb or visible edge of the moon.
The meteorite weighed about 45 kilograms, that & # 39 is just shy of 100 pounds, and it is measured somewhere between 30 to 60 centimeters (11.8 to 23.6 inches). Previously, researchers estimated a & # 39; the object at around 10 kg (22 lbs), so it was more difficult than originally assumed.
If a meteorite hit the moon, he was moving at a speed of 61,000 km / h (37,900 miles per hour). The energy released on impact was equivalent to 1.5 tons (1.65 tonnes USA). Debris that is ejected by the collision temperature reached 5,400 degrees C (9.752 degrees Fahrenheit) -a temperature comparable to the solar surface resulting crater currently measures 15 meters (50 feet) in diameter.
"It would be impossible to reproduce these high-speed collisions in the laboratory on Earth," said Madiedo in a press release. "Watching the outbreak with & # 39 is a great way to test your ideas on what happens when a meteor collides with the moon."
Although exciting, the findings have practical aspect of good. In the appendix to learn more about the environment of the Earth-Moon, scientists can use this information to evaluate the safety of the lunar surface for future explorers and habitat.