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Published June 1, 1994 | Published
Journal Article Open

Impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter


Three-dimensional numerical simulations of the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 on Jupiter and the resulting vapor plume expansion were conducted using the Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH) method. An icy body with a diameter of 2 km can penetrate to an altitude of -350 km (0 km = 1 bar) and most of the incident kinetic energy is transferred to the atmosphere between -100 km to -250 km. This energy is converted to potential energy of the resulting gas plume. The unconfined plume expands vertically and has a peak radiative power approximately equal to the total radiation from Jupiter's disc. The plume rises a few tens of atmospheric scale heights in ∼10² seconds. The rising plume reaches the altitude of ∼3000 km, but no atmospheric gas is accelerated to the escape velocity (∼60 km/s).

Additional Information

© 1994 by the American Geophysical Union. Paper number 94GL01325. Received February 4, 1994; revised May 4, 1994; accepted May 5, 1994. D. Stevenson, J. Spencer, K. Zahnle, T. Johnson, and G. Ravichandran provided many helpful suggestions which we appreciate. We thank K. Zahnle and M. MacLow, and G. Field and A. Ferrara for their preprints, and P. Weissman, M. A'Hearn, K. Ziemelis, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful comments. Research supported by NASA and Cray Research Corp. Contribution number 5381, Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.

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