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Academic Reading Practice Test 23 Jupiter’s Bruises

Academic Reading Practice Test 23 Jupiter's Bruises

Academic Reading Practice Test 23 Jupiter’s Bruises: We Prefer You to Work Offline, Download the Test Paper and Blank Answer Sheet


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Jupiter’s Bruises

In 1994 the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 collided with the planet Jupiter, causing great excitement in the world of astronomy. The article which follows was written after the first impact.

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Shoemaker-Levy 9 has plunged into Jupiter, and the Hubble Space Telescope has moved away to look at other objects in space. Amateur astronomers, however, are still watching Jupiter to see what bruises were left on the mighty planet by the comet crash of 1994. There was tremendous excitement in astronomical circles during the collision of a comet and a planet. It is now time to see what has been learned from this impact.

Asteroids are rockier than comets. Yet it is possible for an asteroid to have a halo or a tail, made mostly of dust. Says Hal Weaver of the Space Telescope Institute: ‘The only real evidence that SL-9 was a comet is that it broke apart, and we’ve never seen that in an asteroid. But maybe this was a fragile asteroid’.

Amateur astronomer David Levy, who with Eugene and Carolyn Shoemaker discovered SL-9, points out that comets were originally distinguished by their appearance. They are objects that look like fuzzy stars with tails, and in any previous century astronomers would have called this discovery a comet. On that basis, argues Levy, ‘S-L 9 is a comet, period’.

The apparent absence of water at the impact sites provides a clue about how far the SL-9 fragments penetrated Jupiter’s atmosphere before exploding. Theorists think that a layer of water vapour lies some 95 km below the visible cloud tops; above the vapour layer, about 50 km down, are clouds believed to consist of a sulphur compound. Since no water seems to have been stirred up, the explosion probably took place in the presumed sulphide layer.

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