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This is an image of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, broken into many pieces.
Click on image for full size
NASA/NSSDC and the Space Telescope Science Institute

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was the ninth comet discovered by Gene Shoemaker, his wife Carolyn, and partner David Levy, in 1993.

The comet had first broken apart in space in 1992, after a close passage near the planet Jupiter, and then plunged directly into Jupiter on its very next pass by the giant planet in 1994.

The crash of the comet into the planet, a once in a millennium event, has helped scientists learn a great deal more about comets, Jupiter, orbits, and the history of the solar system itself. For example, observations now suggest that moons of Jupiter have been struck by strings of comets in the past.

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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation and NASA, our Founding Partners (the American Geophysical Union and American Geosciences Institute) as well as through Institutional, Contributing, and Affiliate Partners, individual memberships and generous donors. Thank you for your support! NASA AGU AGI NSF