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

The Discovery of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Astronomer Gene Shoemaker has a partnership with his wife, Carolyn, and another astronomer named David Levy. Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was the ninth comet chronicled by this partnership.

The Shoemakers work in a separate observatory from that of David Levy. When the Shoemakers think they have found a candidate comet, they phone their partner so that he can also make an observation to be sure.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 was discovered on the morning of March xx, 1993, and seemed to be a large, very strange, "squished" object. Subsequent pictures showed it to be a string of small objects (a "string of pearls").

The Shoemakers traced the collected orbits backwards in time and realized that it had passed very close by Jupiter and could have been torn apart by tidal forces due to Jupiter's gravity. Moreover, they realized that on its next pass by Jupiter it was going to plunge directly in.

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