Spanish Astronomer Release Video Showing Meteorite Crashing into Moon Surface
By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | February 25, 2014 1:30 PM EST
Astronomers from Spain on Tuesday released a video showing the impact of a giant meteorite crashing into moon's surface on September 2013.
Jose Maria Madiedo, a professor at the University of Huelva, Britain's Royal Astronomical Society (RAS), was operating two lunar-observing telescopes when he spotted a flash in the Mare Nubium, an ancient, dark lava-filled basin.
Hundreds of meteoroid impacts on the moon, detected by NASA's lunar monitoring program, are pictured in this undated NASA handout photo. The brightest, detected on March 17, 2013, in Mare Imbrium, is marked by the red square.
He said he saw the flare occurred at 8.07pm GMT on Sept 11, 2013. It was brief but was as bright as the northern hemisphere's Pole Star, he added. Afterwards, a long afterglow ensued which lasted for eight seconds, dubbed to be the longest and brightest ever seen for a lunar impact.
Mr Madiedo postulated the rock, with a diameter between 0.6 and 1.4 metres (around 2 to 4.5 feet) and weighed 400 kilogrammes (882 pounds), hit Mare Nubium, a large, flat area in the Nubium basin on the moon's near side, at around 61,000 kilometres per hour (38,000 mph).
With such high speed, Mr Madiedo believed the rock melted on impact and immediately vaporised, thus the reason for the thermal glow that became visible from Earth as a flash.
Scientists from the society further believed the impact created a 40-metre (131 foot) crater in the moon's pocked surface.
"At that moment, I realised that I had seen a very rare and extraordinary event," Mr Madiedo told the society.
"Usually lunar impacts have a very short duration - just a fraction of a second. But the impact we detected lasted over eight seconds. It was almost as bright as the Pole Star, which makes it the brightest impact event that we have recorded from earth," Mr Madiedo added.
Researchers believed the space rock weighed 880 pounds, about the mass of a small car. The energy released on impact is equivalent to a little over 15 tonnes of TNT.
"Our telescopes will continue observing the Moon as our meteor cameras monitor the Earth's atmosphere. In this way we expect to identify clusters of rocks that could give rise to common impact events on both planetary bodies. We also want to find out where the impacting bodies come from," Mr Madiedo said in a statement.
Mr Madiedo's study was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
View the video here:
Video Source: YouTube/ Jm Madiedo
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