On Monday night, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft completed its mission by colliding with the asteroid Dimorphos, a chunk of rock the size of an Egyptian pyramid 11 million kilometers from Earth.
Beyond the usefulness of the event, which will help us understand how much we can deflect such an object should it fall on us, it was really exciting to be able to see such an explosion.
Many enthusiasts have been able to see the effect from Earth, by placing their telescopes in the park, but apparently the most stunning images come from the Hubble and James Webb space telescopes.
An image taken by the James Webb Near Infrared Camera (NIRCam) four hours after the impact shows “pillars of material appearing as filaments moving away from the center of the impact site” said by all parties involved: ESA and NASA. In addition, Hubble images 22 minutes, five hours, and eight hours after the impact show a spray of the expanding material from where it hits DART.
The images depict an effect that appears to be “much larger than we expected,” said Ian Carnell of the European Space Agency. “…a piece of Dimorphos may have just been separated.”
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