The James Webb Telescope and Hubble, the world’s most powerful space observatories, revealed detailed scenes of NASA’s ‘DART’ spacecraft collision with an asteroid on Monday, images that will help scientists understand the expected course of change. orbital.
This is the first time that two famous space telescopes have been used to simultaneously observe an asteroid: an asteroid located 11 million kilometers from Earth, which served as the target of the world’s first planetary defense test.
On Monday evening, NASA’s DART (arrow in Arabic) spacecraft deliberately crashed into the surface of Demorphos, a small 160-meter-diameter moon orbiting a larger asteroid, in an attempt to deflect it.
It will take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks before scientists can actually confirm the change in orbit and be able to determine where it is in relation to its original position.
But soon after the collision, the first images taken by ground-based telescopes and an onboard nano-satellite showed a vast cloud of dust around Demorphos stretching for thousands of kilometers.
IMPACT SUCCESS! Watch from #DARTMIssioneDRACO Camera, as the vending-sized spacecraft successfully collides with the asteroid Dimorphos, which is the size of a football stadium and poses no threat to Earth. pic.twitter.com/7bXipPkjWD
– NASA (@NASA) September 26, 2022
Queen’s University Belfast astronomer Alan Fitzsimmons, who participated in the ground observations of the “Atlas” project, a network of four telescopes operating out of Hawaii, said the “James Webb” and “Hubble” telescopes working in space , they were able to “zoom in” an image The cloud, more precisely.
He pointed out that these images allow you to see “how clearly this material shattered after the explosive collision of ‘DART’, this is truly amazing”.
James NIRCam’s near-infrared webcam observed the impact for several hours after it occurred. Its ten images reveal a compressed core surrounded by “columns of material” that resemble expanding filaments “away from the center of the collision,” according to a joint statement from the European Space Agency and the James Webb and Hubble telescopes.
The images captured by the Hubble telescope with a wide-angle camera 22 minutes, 5 hours and 8 hours after the collision, show in visible light the movement of the bullets, material torn from the star.
These materials appear in the form of rays, with a gradual increase in their brightness, but they stabilized eight hours after the collision, which “excites the interest of astronomers,” according to the statement.
The “James Webb” telescope, which has conducted observations 1.5 million kilometers from Earth since last July, and the “Hubble”, which has been in service for over 30 years, will soon reveal the amount of ejected material and its nature (large pieces or powder). smooth?) and at what speed.
This information will help scientists “understand how effective the kinetic effect is in changing the asteroid’s orbit,” the statement said.
The kinetic impact technique that NASA is experimenting with is to collide with an asteroid to “push” it a little, thus deflecting its trajectory, a bit like playing billiards in space.