Moon mystery half a century ago is haunted by scientists
A mysterious flash on the Moon, recorded half a century ago, continues to haunt the minds of scientists. If the cause was the fall of a large asteroid, then this kind of collision with the Moon (and the Earth) can occur much more frequently than previously thought.
In 1953, an amateur astronomer Leon Stuart (Leon Stuart) took a picture of the Moon (pictured), which was sealed bright spot in the center of its visible surface. Flash brightness corresponded to the release of energy equivalent to the explosion capacity of about five hundred kilotons.
According to astronomer Bonnie Buratti (Bonnie Buratti) of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) of NASA in Pasadena, the new data suggest that the cause of the outbreak could be falling on the moon asteroid about 20 meters in diameter. If Ms. Buratti right, it could mean that the collision of asteroids of similar size to the Moon (and the Earth) can occur much more frequently than previously thought: approximately every 500 years, with the moon and the time in 30 years — with the Earth.
Formed in the fall of a hypothetical asteroid crater is too small, so that it can be distinguished from the Earth. However, according to Ms. Buratti, the images captured by the automatic station "Clementine" (Clementine) in lunar orbit in 1994, managed to find a "fresh" crater impact origin — and not just in the area where half a century ago, Leon Stewart found in flash. Emissions of lighter materials cover an area of 1.5 km in diameter, and the color indicates that this crater is still very young.
However, some scientists continue to argue that the picture is not Stewart recorded an asteroid falling on the moon, and the so-called "stationary shooting star" — a relatively rare phenomenon, which consists in the fact that the trajectory of the meteor is directed along the axis of the observer, so that he sees just a flash in the sky.
May summarize the skeptics, the picture Stuart such meteor just happened to project the image of the lunar disk in the background. Despite the fact that such stationary meteors are observed infrequently, they do occur more frequently than large asteroids falling on the moon. Moreover, according to opponents Buratti, the presence of the "young" crater on the moon, too, does not mean much — we do not have criteria to determine its true age. Perhaps the "young" crater 20 million years, and it is only relatively younger than the others.
Bonnie Buratti rejects such doubts. According to her, Stewart was a very experienced observer. In his photo taken with an exposure of one-half second, there are no signs of camera movement, and indeed the outbreak occurred in the area of the moon that faces the direction of travel of the planet and which because of this meteor most likely. Detection in images, "Clementine" a young crater in the area described by Stewart, she says — confirm the correctness astronomer who 50 years ago took a picture of the moon at the moment of her new crater.
(According to the magazine New Scientist)