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Scientists confirm that a space rock hit the moon during the lunar eclipse



  The lightning from the impact of a meteorite on the darkened moon in early 2019, as a point in the upper left corner.
Enlarge / The flash of the impact of a meteoroid on the darkened moon in early 2019, seen as a point in the upper left corner.

J. M. Madiedo / MIDAS

On January 1

9, 2019, a lunar eclipse blazed observers throughout America (and a piece of Africa and Europe). After the incident, some who had seen it reported a very brief flash.

Two days later, when Buzz began building the solar eclipse, astronomer Chris Lintott tweeted at Oxford University . "If you have photographs of the lunar eclipse at 4.41 GMT, check your image carefully … There may have been effects during the solar eclipse!" Soon, high-quality stills of impact were created . Later, a video was added.

Four Spanish scientists have now published a detailed analysis of the impact in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society which estimates the size of the object, its origin and its impact from the impact it left on the lunar surface. Their estimates were based on observations from five f / 10 Schmidt Cassegrain telescopes in Seville, Spain. The clear weather allowed the telescope an uninterrupted view of the solar eclipse during the entirety of the event.

"This is the first impact that is clearly recorded on the moon during a lunar eclipse and discussed in the scientific literature," the authors write. The night of the lunar eclipse in early 2019 did not coincide with major meteor showers on Earth. According to their analysis, the Spanish scientists said they were 99 percent sure that the effects were associated with a random or "sporadic" meteoroid – the same – meteorites that people on Earth see in the night sky when there are no active meteor showers ,

The meteor attack only produced a short flash that lasted only 0.28 seconds, reaching a maximum magnitude of 4.2, about the same brightness as Jupiter's Moon Ganymede seen from Earth. Based on various measurements and conclusions, the scientists estimated that the impactor had a mass of 45 kg and left a lunar crater with a diameter of 10 to 15 meters. This was to be observed with a spacecraft such as NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, orbiting the moon since 2009.

Astronomers, of course, have seen many effects on the moon in their history – in fact, these Spanish scientists belong to it. The system for detecting and analyzing lunar effects (MIDAS) was developed for this type of observation.

These effects can be quite bright, as there is no atmosphere in the moon, and so some blows hit the lunar surface at a speed of up to 30 km / h. s, releasing a flash of light and heat that can be seen from the earth. (The impact of the lunar eclipse of 2019 was estimated to be 17 km / s.)

Before NASA sends people to the moon, perhaps permanently to a ground station, it is a good idea how to handle it better get ordinary meteor strikes are on the surface. In fact, in 2016, NASA concluded that the meteoroid rate was higher than originally thought.


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