Field of Science

Spitzer

Artist's impression and animation of a celestial impact suggested by observations from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.



Astronomers say that two rocky bodies, one as least as big as our moon and the other at least as big as Mercury, slammed into each other within the last few thousand years or so — not long ago by cosmic standards. The impact destroyed the smaller body, vaporizing huge amounts of rock and flinging massive plumes of hot lava into space.

Spitzer's infrared detectors were able to pick up the signatures of the vaporized rock, along with pieces of refrozen lava, called tektites. -- August '09 Press Release


Image and Animation Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

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