Astronomers managed to capture the moment when there was an impact during the lunar eclipse of a few days ago.
Apparently, a fragment of a comet crashed on the Moon during the total lunar eclipse on Sunday night and Monday morning, said Spanish astrophysicist Jose Maria Madiedo, of the University of Huelva on Wednesday.
The collision was seen through telescopes in Spain and elsewhere as a flash of light.
It is the first flash of an impact that has been seen during a lunar eclipse, even if incidents of that kind are common, Madiedo said.
The object crashed at a speed of 17 kilometers (10 miles) per second, weighed 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and measured 30 centimeters (12 inches) in diameter, he added.
The Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles also recorded the impact during the live transmission of the eclipse. Some observers may see a second flash a minute after the first, said Anthony Cook, a Griffith astronomer observer.
"It was in the brightest part of the moon image," Cook said of the alleged second impact. "And there may not be enough contrast for the flash to be visible in our video."
According to Madiedo, the monitoring of a lunar impact is usually carried out five days before and five days after the new moon, when flashes can be easily observed. To take advantage of the eclipse that lasts more than three hours, the Spaniards have placed other telescopes out of the four that he has in an observatory in Seville. "I did not want to lose every possible impact," he explained in an e-mail.
"I could not sleep for almost two days while I was inserting and testing additional instruments and during the night of January 21st," he wrote. "I was really exhausted when the eclipse is over."
Software on the computer warned him of the impact.
"I jumped out of the chair and I was very happy because I think the effort was rewarded."
Monitoring the Moon can help scientists better predict the impact rate, not only on the Moon, but also on Earth, said Madiedo, who helps manage the Moon Impact Detection and Analysis System (MIDAS). with its acronym in English) in Spain.