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HubbleSite Evolution of the P/Shoemaker-Levy 9 "Gang of Four" Region

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Space Telescope Science

This series of eight NASA Hubble Space Telescope "snapshots" shows the evolution of the P-Q complex, also called the "gang of four" region, of comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9.

The eight individual frames chronicle changes in the comet during the 12 months before colliding with Jupiter. The sequence shows that the relative separations of the various cometary fragments, thought to range in size from about 500 meters to almost 4 km (2.5 miles) across, changed dramatically over this period. The apparent separation of Q1 and Q2 was only about 1100 kilometers (680 miles) on 1 July 1993 and increased to 28,000 kilometers (17,400 miles) by 20 July 1994.

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