Webb and Hubble telescopes capture the impact of DART on the asteroid

The two large space telescopes, the james web it’s him Hubble NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) captured images of a unique experiment in which a spacecraft collided with a small asteroid. For the first time they observe the same celestial object together.

It happened in the early hours of Tuesday (in Europe, Monday in America), when the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) it collided with Dimorphos, a small asteroid orbiting a larger one, Didymos.

It was the first world test of the technique of kinetic impact using a spacecraft to try to deflect one of these objects by changing its orbit. The DART mission is a test to defend Earth from possible dangerous asteroids or comets.

It is the first time that the Webb and Hubble space telescopes have observed the same celestial object together: the asteroid Dimorphos during the impact of the DART spacecraft.

In this context, the observations from the two telescopes are more than just an operational milestone. there is also main scientific questions related to the composition and history of our solar system that researchers can explore by combining the capabilities of both.

The joint observations of Webb and Hubble will allow scientists to know the surface nature of Dimorphosthe amount of expelled material by the collision and the speed with which it was ejected.

Furthermore, by analyzing the impact across a broad wavelength range between Webb and Hubble will reveal the particle size distribution in the expanding dust cloud, helping to determine whether it ejected many large fragments or, more importantly, fine dust. All this information will help to know how effectively a kinetic impact can change the orbit of an asteroid.

Webb Focuses on Impact Website

Webb made an observation of the impact site before the collision, and then several in the following hours. The images of near infrared camera (NIRCam) from Webb show a compact, compact core, with plumes of material appearing as wicks moving away from the center of impact.

This observation posed a unique challenge to flight operations, planning and science teams. Because of the asteroid’s speed across the sky, they worked in the weeks leading up to impact to enable and test a asteroid tracking method they move three times faster than the original speed limit set for Webb.

Scientists also plan to observe the asteroid in the coming months using the mid-infrared instrument (MIRI) it’s him near infrared spectrograph (NIRSpec) from Webb. The spectroscopic data will allow researchers to learn the chemical composition of the object.

Webb observed the impact for a total of five hours and captured 10 images. The data were collected as part of a temporal observation program led by Heidi Hammel of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA).

Hubble shows ejection after impact

Hubble was also able to capture observations of the tiny ‘moon’ before impact, and again 15 minutes after DART hit the surface of Dimorphos. The images of wide field camera 3 from Hubble show the impact on visible light. O ejected material from the impact appears as rays extending from the asteroid’s body. The steepest fan-shaped ejection peak to the left of the asteroid is where DART impacted.

Hubble observed material ejected from the impact, which appears as rays extending from the asteroid’s body.

Some of the rays appear to be slightly bent, but astronomers need to take a closer look to determine what that could mean. Using Hubble images, astronomers estimate that Didymos’s brightness increased 3 times after the accident, and they are also particularly intrigued by how it remained stable afterwards, even eight hours after the accident.

Hubble will ‘look’ at Dimorphos ten more times over the next three weeks. These periodic and relatively long observations, such as the ejection cloud expands and fades over time, it will give you a more complete picture of its evolution.

The telescope captured 45 images in the period immediately before and after the historic impact as part of its overall observation programs.

In 2024, ESA will also launch the Hera mission to send a spacecraft, along with two small satellites, with the aim of analyzing the crater and the effects caused by DART on Dimorphos much more closely.

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