A giant asteroid, which was the size of a small car, crashed into one side of the moon in the fall of 2013 and ended up leaving the lengthiest afterglow for a lunar impact that has ever been seen. In fact, it was large enough to have been seen by the naked eye under the right viewing conditions, stated a Spanish astrophysicist on Monday.
Jose Madiedo stated that he saw the blast while he was working with two lunar telescopes on Sept. 11 of last year. He explained that at that time, he realized that he had seen something very extraordinary and rare. The afterglow lasted for nearly eight seconds and was for a momentary time just as bright as the North Star.
The asteroid was believed to have weighed around 880 pounds and measured over four feet in diameter. It hit the moon at about 56,000 mph, and ended up created an explosion which was the equal to just under 16 tons of TNT. This made it three times larger than any other recorded strike against the moon. There are asteroids which are similar in size that come close to hitting the Earth, but the atmosphere here causes them to burn up into meteors before they can strike. However on the moon, it was a straight hit. NASA has watched over 300 meteors smash into the surface of the moon since 2005, and plans to continue watching.
Video footage of the strike on the moon was unveiled on Monday and it revealed the long flash that was almost as bright as the Northern Star.
The strike also ended up producing a new crater that was just over 130 feet wide. It was located in a primordial lava filled lunar region which is called the Mare Nubium, explained Madiedo and some of his associates. Normally, the bursts that come from such impacts last for only a part of a second, but as was stated above, this bright glow observed by the Spanish astronomer lasted for nearly eight full seconds. This makes it the most extensively observed impact blaze. NASA’s moon impact observing program was able to record it. Their telescopes will remain watching the moon as the Earth’s meteor cameras also screen the atmosphere of the Earth, explained Madiedo said in a press release.
Because of the meteor cameras and telescopes always watching so closely, astrophysicists and astronomers are able to better identify the various gatherings of rocks which could possibly give rise to common impact objects on each of the planetary bodies. Scientists want to try their best to always be able, if possible, to find out when and where the impacting bodies might be coming from or heading toward.
All the information about the Sept.2013 moon impact was revealed on Monday in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The asteroid, which was thought to be about the size of a small car, crashed into one side of the moon in the fall of 2013 and ended up leaving the lengthiest afterglow for a lunar impact that has ever been seen.
By Kimberly Ruble