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Record-breaking impact observed on Moon

Posted on Tuesday, 25 February, 2014 | Comment icon 12 comments

Meteorites strike the moon's surface on a regular basis. Image Credit: NASA/JPL/USGS

A meteorite impact on the lunar surface in September produced the brightest flash ever recorded.

The event was picked up by astronomers in Spain and produced a flash bright enough to be visible from the Earth. The object is believed to have been a meteorite that measured up to 5ft across and weighed more than 400kg.

"Usually lunar impacts have a very short duration - just a fraction of a second," said Prof Jose Madiedo. "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."

Unlike our own planet which has a protective atmosphere, the moon's surface is completely exposed to impacts from space and has the craters to prove it. Scientists estimate that this latest collision would have produced a crater 40m across.

"That's the estimation we have made according to current impact models," said Prof Madiedo. "We expect that soon NASA could observe the crater and confirm our prediction."

Source: BBC News | Comments (12)

Tags: Moon, Flash, Meteorite, Impact

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 24 February, 2014, 18:11
When it comes to protection from impacts I'd lose the Moon and keep the atmosphere any day.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Sundew on 25 February, 2014, 21:59
The new in the U.S. said it was an asteroid. Remember when we had real reporters who enquired of sources? Sigh.......
Comment icon #5 Posted by Ashyne on 25 February, 2014, 22:39
Why did it take 5 months to report this incident?
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 25 February, 2014, 22:41
I'm not sure what your point is here. An asteroid is a small irregular object orbiting the Sun. A Meteorite is a body (of cometary or asteroid origin) which impacts another body. This WAS an asteroid right up until the moment it hit the Moon. I'm no fan of reporters but in this case it is you that didn't check your facts.
Comment icon #7 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 25 February, 2014, 23:17
Firstly many astronomical observatories are automated now. These telescopes were specifically set up to search for such impacts and so it is highly likely that they are automated. Watching the Moon from the time it rises until the time it sets will produce hours of information EACH night and EVERY night that the Moon is visible. Searching for a tiny flash of light that lasts a few seconds on an object as large as the moon is going to be a time consuming affair. Then once they had found the impact they needed to do all the calculations. Measure the brightness, calculate the energy released... [More]
Comment icon #8 Posted by Merc14 on 26 February, 2014, 1:44
Somebody out there with a telescope in the backyard is now rapidly scanning there observations from 9/11/13.
Comment icon #9 Posted by bigjonalien on 26 February, 2014, 18:18
Where is the visual universetoday has it?
Comment icon #10 Posted by pallidin on 26 February, 2014, 20:04
Wow. That must have been a sight to see.
Comment icon #11 Posted by spirithorseroad on 27 February, 2014, 17:09
I want to see the crater plus if there is any way perhaps some science of exactly what it was that landed there seems incredible perhaps there is something to be learned possibly unexpected
Comment icon #12 Posted by Peter B on 28 February, 2014, 13:55
It wouldn't surprise me if right now people are going through images from the Lunar Reconaissance Orbiter to find the impact site. That will show them where it is, and then they can go back to look at earlier images of the site.

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