DPS Meeting, Madison, October 1998
Session 32. Jupiter II
Contributed Oral Parallel Session, Wednesday, October 14, 1998, 3:40-5:10pm, Madison Ballroom D

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[32.09] Simple models of SL-9 impact plumes in flight

J. Harrington (Cornell), D. Deming (NASA/GSFC)

We have extended our ballistic Monte-Carlo model of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 impact plumes (J.\ Harrington and D.\ Deming 1996. Simple models of SL9 impact plumes, {\em Bull.\ Am.\ Astron.\ Soc.} {\bf 28} 1150--1151) to calculate the appearance of the plumes in flight. We compare these synthetic images to the data taken by the Hubble Space Telescope of plumes on the limb of Jupiter during impacts A, E, G, and W. The model uses a parameterized version of the final power-law velocity distribution from the impact models of Zahnle and Mac Low. The observed plume heights, lightcurve features, and debris patterns fix the values of model parameters. The parameters that best reproduce the debris patterns dictate an approximately conic plume geometry, with the apex of the cone initially near the impact site, the cone's axis pointed in the direction from which the impactor came, and an opening angle >45\sp{\circ} from the axis. Since material of a given velocity is, at any given time, a certain distance from the cone apex, the geometry spreads high-velocity material much thinner than low-velocity material. The power law exponent of -1.55 combines with this effect to make mass density fall off as the -3.55 power of the velocity (or distance from the plume base). However, the outer shell of highest-velocity material, corresponding to the atmospheric shock wave, carries considerably elevated mass density. We are currently studying the range of reasonable optical properties to determine whether the visible plume tops corresponded to the physical top of this shell, or to a lower density contour.

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The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: jhmail@oobleck.tn.cornell.edu

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