Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2004 July 24
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A String Of Pearls
Credit H. Weaver (JHU), T. Smith (STScI), NASA

Explanation: Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, named after its co-discoverers, was often referred to as the "string of pearls" comet. It is famous for its suggestive appearance as well as its collision with the planet Jupiter! The comet's original single nucleus was torn to pieces by Jupiter's strong gravity during a close encounter with the solar system's largest planet in 1992. The pieces are seen (scroll right) in this composite of Hubble Space Telescope images to be "pearls" strung out along the comet's orbital path. Only ten years ago, in July of 1994, these pieces collided with Jupiter in a rare and spectacular series of events.

Tomorrow's picture: filament in arms

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