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What We Learned from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 - Windows to the Universe

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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

What we learned from Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

Scientists have learned a great deal from the crash of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

  • Scientists traced the orbit of the comet backwards in time to guess its origin.
  • The crash of a comet like Shoemaker-Levy 9 might have happened more than once. A search of moons showed that, indeed, strings of broken comets had hit other solar system objects in the past.
  • Signs of the explosions of the comet remained in Jupiter's atmosphere for 2 years.
  • Scientists still debate whether SL-9 was a comet or an asteroid.

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