EarthSky reports that while watching the January 20-21 total eclipse of the moon astronomers were able to capture on film for the first time a meteor striking the moon’s surface.
They estimate the meteor hit at ~38,000 mph with an impact equivalent to 1.7 tons of TNT.
A new analysis by Spanish astronomers says the space rock collided with the moon at 38,000 miles per hour (61,000 km/hour) excavating a crater 33-50 feet (10-15 meters) across. The study was published April 27, 2019, in the peer-reviewed journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
The January 20-21 total lunar eclipse was the last one until May 2021, with observers in North and South America and western Europe enjoying the best view. At 4:41 UTC, just after the total phase of the eclipse began, there was a flash on the lunar surface. Widespread reports from amateur astronomers indicated the flash – attributed to a meteorite impact – was bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.
Meanwhile, researchers at the Moon Impacts Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS) in the south of Spain used eight telescopes to monitor the lunar surface. Video footage from MIDAS recorded the moment of impact. The impact flash lasted 0.28 seconds and is the first ever filmed during a lunar eclipse, despite a number of earlier attempts. MIDAS telescopes observed the impact flash at multiple wavelengths (different colors of light), improving the analysis of the event.
The MIDAS researchers concluded that the incoming rock had a mass of 99 lb (45 kg), measured 12-24 inches (30-60 cm) across, and hit the surface close to the crater close to the crater Lagrange H at 38,000 miles per hour (61,000 km/hour).
The scientists assessed the impact energy as equivalent to 1.5 tonnes (1.7 tons) of TNT, enough, they said, to create a crater about the size of two double decker buses side by side. They estimated that the debris that was ejected when the rock hit reached a peak temperature of 9,800 degrees F (5,400 degrees C), roughly the same temperature as the surface of the sun.
Astronomers have release new photos of the giant black hole.
Meet the black hole’s home: Galaxy M87
The 1st-ever photo of a giant black hole made headlines earlier this month. Now see some beautiful images of M87, the great galaxy that it calls home, located some 55 million light-years from Earth.
Earlier this month, scientists unveiled the first-ever photo taken of a black hole. It was a phenomenal achievement, and that image of the hot, glowing donut-shaped ring of gas and dust – surrounding the black hole itself, which can’t be seen – will go down in history as one of the most epic photos in space science. You can thank the Event Horizon Telescope for this first black hole image; this international group worked for years to accomplish it. Now … want some context for the black hole image? The first several images on this page let us step back a bit, to see how the giant black hole – 6.5 billion times more massive than our sun – appears in relation to its host galaxy, Messier 87 (aka M87). It’s a great view!
NASA released the image above – from its orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope – on April 25, 2019. It shows the black hole’s galaxy in the infrared. Although neither the black hole nor its event horizon can be seen here, you can see two massive jets of material being ejected from the event horizon out into space at nearly the speed of light, just one indication of the power of the central black hole. You thought black holes suck in material with gravity so strong that even light can’t escape? That’s true. But other material can become trapped in the disk around a black hole’s event horizon, and later be ejected again back out into deep space.
Read more about the new photos and the great Galaxy M87, here, at EarthSky.
Can black holes tell us anything about how we got here?
Bottom line: Jets of fast-moving material shot from the area surrounding a black hole are wobbling so fast that their change in direction can be seen in periods as short as minutes, and astronomers say it’s happening because the rotating black hole’s powerful gravitational pull is dragging nearby space itself along with it.
Read more about V404 Cygni, which came to astronomers’ attention via a 2015 outburst.
Watch. “These jets are precessing or wobbling so fast, the scientists said, that Einstein’s general theory of relativity is needed to explain them. According to Einstein, massive objects like black holes distort space and time. Further, when such a massive object is spinning, its gravitational influence pulls space and time around with it, an effect called frame-dragging.”
Animation of the precessing jets and accretion flow in V404 Cygni. Zooming in from the high-speed plasma clouds observed with our radio telescope, we see the binary system itself. Mass from the star spirals in towards the black hole via an accretion disk, whose inner regions are puffed up by intense radiation. The spinning black hole pulls spacetime (the green gridlines) around with it, causing the inner disk to precess like a spinning top, redirecting the jets as it does so. Credit: ICRAR