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Light Curves and Colors of the Ejecta from Dimorphos after the DART Impact

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On 26 September 2022 the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft impacted Dimorphos, a satellite of the asteroid 65803 Didymos1. Because it is a binary system, it is possible to determine how much the orbit of the satellite changed, as part of a test of what is necessary to deflect an asteroid that might threaten Earth with an impact. In nominal cases, pre-impact predictions of the orbital period reduction ranged from ~ 8.8 – 17.2 minutes2,3. Here we report optical observations of Dimorphos before, during and after the impact, from a network of citizen science telescopes across the world. We find a maximum brightening of 2.29 ± 0.14 mag upon impact. Didymos fades back to its pre-impact brightness over the course of 23.7 ± 0.7 days. We estimate lower limits on the mass contained in the ejecta, which was 0.3 – 0.5 % Dimorphos’ mass depending on the dust size. We also observe a reddening of the ejecta upon impact.

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Correspondence to Ariel Graykowski.

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Graykowski, A., Lambert, R.A., Marchis, F. et al. Light Curves and Colors of the Ejecta from Dimorphos after the DART Impact. Nature (2023).

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