The W Fragment of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 Impacting on Jupiter
Photographed by the Galileo Spacecraft enroute to Jupiter, on July 22, 1994

These four pictures, taken 2.3 seconds apart, show the early meteor, or "bolide", stage of the impact of the last major fragment of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter's night side. In the first image (8:06:12 UTC), no impact is visible. In the second picture, a bright point of light appears superimposed on the dark side of Jupiter's southern hemisphere. In the third image, the impact has grown so bright that it saturates the CCD picture element at the center of the image of the impact flash. By remarkable coincidence, the Hubble Space Telescope took a picture of the W impact, also in green light, within one second of this image, providing a complementary view of very faint associated phenomena at very high altitudes in Jupiter's atmosphere, just above the planet's edge as seen from Earth. In the final Galileo image (8:06:19 UTC), the impact flash has faded appreciably.

Hubble Space Telescope Pictures of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, broke up into many fragments under the enormous tidal influences of Jupiter. As the fragments impacted on Jupiter, they left scars that were up to four times the size of the Earth. These impact areas took months to recover. Click on the image to see an animation of the impacts.