Water in Stratosphere of Jupiter Was Delivered by Comet

Posted on April 26, 2013

Water in stratosphere of Jupiter


Water in the stratosphere of Jupiter was delivered there by comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which struck Jupiter in 1994. The European Space Agency (ESA) reports that data from Herschel helped astronomers determine that the comet was the source of the water.

Data from Herschel indicates there is two to three times more water in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter than in the northern hemisphere. Most of the water is concentrated around the sites of the 1994 comet impact.

Thibault Cavalie of the Laboratoire d'Astrophysique de Bordeaux, lead author of the paper published in Astronomy and Astrophysics, said in a statement, "Only Herschel was able to provide the sensitive spectral imaging needed to find the missing link between Jupiter's water and the 1994 impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9. According to our models, as much as 95% of the water in the stratosphere is due to the comet impact."

Images: Water map: ESA/Herschel/T. Cavalie et al.; Jupiter image: NASA/ESA/Reta Beebe (New Mexico State University