The Collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 With Jupiter As Viewed From 10 Parsecs

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Session 4 -- Solar System
Display presentation, Monday, 30, 1994, 9:20-6:30

[4.03] The Collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 With Jupiter As Viewed From 10 Parsecs

M. W. Castelaz (ETSU)

The collision of a comet-like object with a Jupiter- sized planet orbiting another star may be detectable as a brief increase in the magnitude of the stellar-planet system. The expected increase in magnitude is calculated assuming the star radiates as a blackbody, and the collision event also radiates as a blackbody within an area of radius R on the planet's surface. For a particular R and collision event luminosity, we estimate the collision temperature. Using this temperature we then calculate the blackbody emission at a particular wavelength. Adding this emission to the stellar emission at that wavelength gives the increase in flux, or magnitude. For the local comet-Jupiter collision event we find that a distant observer (say, 10 parsecs) would not detect the occurrence of the comet collision, at any wavelength. The change in magnitude is much less than a millimagnitude at wavelengths from the UV through the FIR. However, when we consider a cool star (3,000 K), and a range of possible collision luminosities and areas of blackbody emission, we find a range of observable magnitude increases, predominantly in the UV. For example, for a collision luminosity only ten times that of the local event (about $10^{25}$ ergs/sec), and blackbody emission over an area of radius $10^{-4}$ Jupiter radii, we find a magnitude increase of 2, seen at 1500 $\AA$. We will present the magnitude changes expected for a range of luminosities, wavelengths, and areas of emission. Also, we will discuss the probability of ever seeing such an event occuring in another stellar system.

Monday program listing