The impact of comet Shoemaker-Levy/9 into the atmosphere of Jupiter offers a seismological probe of the interior structure of the planet. A small but significant fraction of the energy carried by a pressure wave launched by the explosion of the comet probes deeply into the planet before refracting upward and arriving in the stratosphere of the visible hemisphere of Jupiter. Waves from impacts exceeding 1028 ergs produce temperature fluctuations exceeding 1 K at distances of ≲ 16,000 km from the impact site at the 0.02 bar pressure level. Wave arrival locations and times provide a measure of the variation of sound speed with radius in Jupiter and may reveal the location of the molecular to metallic hydrogen phase transition. The pressure wave may also excite detectable p-mode oscillations of Jupiter.
- Comets: individual (Shoemaker-Levy/9)
- Planets and satellites: individual (Jupiter)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Space and Planetary Science