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Jupiter & Earth Comet Collisions The comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, probably once orbited the sun independently, but had been pulled by Jupiter's gravity into an orbit around the planet. When the comet was discovered, it had broken into 21 pieces. The comet probably had broken apart when it passed close to Jupiter. Jupiter is the largest planet in the solar system. Its diameter is 88,846 miles (142,984 kilometers), more than 11 times that of Earth, and about one-tenth that of the sun. It would take more than 1,000 Earths to fill up the volume of the giant planet. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter appears brighter than most stars. It is usually the second brightest planet -- after Venus. Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun. Its mean (average) distance from the sun is about 483,780,000 miles (778,570,000 kilometers), more than five times Earth's distance. Ancient astronomers named Jupiter after the king of the Roman gods. Astronomers have studied Jupiter with telescopes based on Earth and aboard artificial satellites in orbit around Earth. In addition, the United States has sent six space probes (crewless exploratory craft) to Jupiter. Astronomers witnessed a spectacular event in July 1994, when 21 fragments of a comet named Shoemaker-Levy 9 crashed into Jupiter's atmosphere. The impacts caused tremendous explosions, some scattering debris over areas larger than the diameter of Earth.

Channels: The Astronomers 

Added: 3121 days ago by deek

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