April 23, 2013

Herschel links water in Jupiter's stratosphere to comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Astronomers have finally found direct proof that almost all water present in Jupiter's stratosphere was delivered by comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which struck the planet in 1994. The result is based on new data from Herschel that revealed more water in Jupiter's southern hemisphere, where the impacts occurred, than in the north as well as probing the vertical distribution of water in the planet's stratosphere.

Traces in Jupiter's atmosphere made by the impact of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, in July 1994. (Credits: NASA/ESA)

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"Spatial distribution of water in the stratosphere of Jupiter from Herschel HIFI and PACS observations", Cavalié et al., 2013, A&A, 553, A21.