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The Space Rock that Hit the Moon in 61, 000 Kilometers a Hour

¬†Observers watching January’s total eclipse of the Moon saw a rare event, a brief-lived flash like a meteorite hit the lunar surface. Spanish astronomers now believe that the space rock collided with the Moon in 61, 000 kilometer an hour, excavating a crater 10 to 15 meters across. Prof Jose Maria Madiedo at the University of Huelva, as well as Dr. Jose L. Ortiz of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia, publish their results at a brand New article in Monthly Notifications of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Lunar total eclipses take place when the Moon moves fully into the shadow of the Earth. The Moon takes on a color, the consequence of scattered sunlight refracted throughout the Earth’s atmosphere, but is darker than normal. These magnificent events are often observed by astronomers and the wider public. The latest lunar eclipse took place on 21 with observers in America and Western Europe enjoying the best view. In 0441 GMT after the total phase of the eclipse phase, an ignition was seen on the lunar surface. Widespread reports from amateur astronomers signaled the flash, attributed to a meteorite impact, was bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.

Madiedo and Ortiz function the Moon Impacts Detection and Investigation System, using eight telescopes in the south of Spain to monitor the lunar surface. The impact flash lasted 0.28 seconds and is the first ever filmed during a lunar eclipse, despite a number of earlier efforts. Something inside of me told me this time could be the time, said Madiedo, that was amazed when he observed the event because it was brighter than the majority of the events frequently detected by the survey. Unlike the Earth, the Moon has no atmosphere to defend it and so small stones can hit its surface.

Considering these impacts take place in speeds, the rocks are instantly vaporized at the impact site, producing an expanding plume of debris that our glow can be detected out of our planet as brief duration flashes. MIDAS telescopes observed a shocking flash on several wavelengths, enhancing the analysis of the event. Madiedo and Ortiz conclude the incoming stone had a mass of 45kg, measured 30 to 60 centimeters across, and hit the surface at 61, 000 kilometer an hour. The impact site is close to the crater Lagrange H, near the west southwest portion of the lunar limbs. The two scientists evaluate the impact energy is equivalent to 1.5 tonnes of TNT, sufficient to make a crater up to 15 meters across, or approximately the size of two double-decker buses side by side. The debris is estimated to have reached a temperature of 5400 degrees Celsius the same as the surface of the Sun.

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Paul Carrizales

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