EUVE Observations of Jupiter During the Impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  16 Jun 1995:
Vol. 268, Issue 5217, pp. 1595-1597
DOI: 10.1126/science.268.5217.1595


The Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer (EUVE) satellite conducted extensive observations of the jovian system before, during, and after the impact of the fragments of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in July 1994. About 2 to 4 hours after the impacts of several of the larger fragments, the brightness of the neutral helium (He I) resonance line at 58.4 nanometers temporarily increased by a factor of about 10. The transient 58.4-nanometer brightenings are most simply explained by resonant scattering of sunlight from the widespread high-altitude remnants of the larger impact plumes. Other possible sources of emission, such as electron impact excitation of He or radiative recombination of He+, may contribute to the observed signal.