Deep Impact at the TNG: recording of the event from ground-based telescope in the ORM.

On July 4th, at 5:52 UT (6:52 in Canary Islands local time), NASA Deep Impact spacecraft concludes a six-month voyage to reach 9P/Tempel 1 by sending a projectile crashing into this comet. The impact of the projectil of 370 Kg into the comet nucleus, will cause a crater on the surface and will eject fresh material from its interior.

The interior of comets hides important clues about the origin of the Solar System, as this objects formed from the same pristine material as the solar nebulae.

Telescopio Nazionale Galileo (TNG) plays an active role in the pre and post impact observations. Thanks to the queuing observing mode of the TNG, a group of astronomers leaded by G.P.Tozzi(Obs. Arcetri-INAF) and J. Licandro(ING-IAC) has been following the comet 9P/Tempel 1 since March 2005, obtaining images and spectra that record its activity in its way towards the Sun.

Likewise, as soon as the comet is visible from La Palma after the impact, and for a week thereafter, the astronomers at the TNG will perform different kind of observations with the instruments available. A group leaded by M.T. Capria (IASF, Rome-INAF) will register the effects of the impact with high resolution optical spectroscopy (SARG). Another group, leaded by J. Licandro and G.P. Tozzi, in colaboration with Capria, will also perform optical spectroscopy (Low Resolution-LRS) and imaging with DOLORES, working simultaneously at the William Herschel Telescope (infrared spectroscopy-LIRIS) and Nordic Optical Telescope (Optical spectroscopy and imaging-ALFOSC).

An international video-conference between the ORM and the majority of the observatories around the world will be held to follow the event, starting several hours before the impact and maintaining a live-connection during the following 24 hours. This will support an unique and exciting exchange of information that will provide a better recording and subsequent understanding of the phenomena.

DI Image

Image taken with the LRS at the TNG by Antonio Magazzú, 30th May.