The asteroid Dimorphos that was deliberately hit by a NASA spacecraft last week is now being followed by thousands of miles of debris from the impact. Astronomers captured the scene millions of miles away with a telescope in Chile.
The picture shows an expanding, comet-like tail, more than 10,000 kilometers long, consisting of dust and other material. The photo was taken two days after the collision.
Scientists expect the tail to grow even longer and spread even more, and at some point to become so thin that it can no longer be detected. “At that point, it will be like other space dust floating around the solar system,” Matthew Knight of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, who did the telescope observation, told Reuters news agency.
Dimorphos, a 160-metre-wide asteroid, was hit by the DART spacecraft at around 20,000 kilometers per hour. All in all, the experiment cost 325 million dollars.
The collision was a test that NASA is investigating whether such a maneuver could change the course of an asteroid threatening to strike Earth. By the way, Dimorphos was never a threat to the Earth.
How much the course of the space rock has changed after the collision should be seen in the coming period.
NASA was very satisfied with the mission and also with the images of the impact: