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Astron. Astrophys. 343, L57-L60 (1999)

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Letter to the Editor

A search for meteoritic flashes on the Moon

J.L. Ortiz 1, F.J. Aceituno 2 and J. Aceituno 3

1 Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, CSIC, Aptdo 3004, E-18080 Granada, Spain
2 Alhamar 40, E-18004 Granada, Spain
3 Centro Astronómico Hispano Alemán, Aptdo 511, E-04080 Almería, Spain

Received 8 January 1999 / Accepted 25 January 1999


We present the first results of a search for bright flashes associated to impacts of meteoroids on the surface of the night side of the Moon. We have analysed 13 sets of images of a (2.9[FORMULA]0.3) 106-km2-wide area on the Moon's night side, totaling 4.3 h of observations. No impact events radiating an amount of energy higher than [FORMULA] J have been detected. Five fainter events (E [FORMULA] [FORMULA] J) have been detected, but they are not confidently identified as impact-related, and might be due to experimental problems. This rate of events would imply an influx of 4800 [FORMULA] 500 meteoroids per day onto the Earth, with meteoroid masses of uncertain value, but larger than 0.01 kg. The direct CCD imaging technique that we have used is a potential new tool to asses the population of those meteoroids in the vicinity of the Earth whose masses and velocities are such that the radiated energy upon impact is higher than [FORMULA] J, our threshold for 100% confident detection. The technique can be improved substantially to detect fainter impacts and might provide unique data for the 1999 Leonid meteor shower.

Key words: Moon – solar system: general – meteors, meteoroids

Send offprint requests to: J.L. Ortiz (ortiz@iaa.es)

© European Southern Observatory (ESO) 1999

Online publication: March 1, 1999