The James Webb and Hubble telescopes on Thursday revealed their initial images of a spacecraft deliberately crashing into an asteroid. This is the first time that the two most powerful space telescopes have observed the same celestial object.Also Read – NASA's Artemis 1 Moon Mission Looks At New Launch Window | Details Inside
An image taken by James Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) four hours after impact shows “plumes of material appearing as wisps streaming away from the centre of where the impact took place”, according to a joint statement from the European Space Agency, James Webb and Hubble. Also Read – NASA's SOFIA Takes It's Last Flight: Space Agency Shares Images Captured By World's Largest Flying Telescope | See Spellbinding Pics
First Images of Asteroid Strike Released from Webb, Hubble Telescopes
Astronomers rejoiced as NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor slammed into its pyramid-sized target 11 million kilometres (6.8 million miles) from Earth on Monday night. Also Read – Artemis Launch Will be 'Difficult' Before Nov, But Not 'Off the Table': NASA
Images taken by Earth-bound telescopes showed a vast cloud of dust expanding out of Dimorphos — and its big brother Didymos which it orbits — after the spacecraft hit.
DART, you rocked out there. #ICYMI, Webb and @NASAHubble both captured the effects of #DARTMission colliding with an asteroid as a test of planetary defense. This is the first time both telescopes observed the same target at the same time: https://t.co/CuVzJXyK2F pic.twitter.com/QvgoqBQd8r
— NASA Webb Telescope (@NASAWebb) September 29, 2022
Alan Fitzsimmons, an astronomer at Queen’s University Belfast involved in observations with the ATLAS project said that while those images showed matter spraying out over thousands of kilometres, the James Webb and Hubble images “zoom in much closer”.
James Webb and Hubble can see “within just a few kilometres of the asteroids and you can really clearly see how the material is flying out from that explosive impact by DART”, Fitzsimmons told news agency AFP.
“It really is quite spectacular,” he said.
Observations from the space telescopes will help reveal how much — and how quickly — matter sprayed from the asteroid, as well as the nature of its surface. ‘A beautiful demonstration’
(With AFP Inputs)