Images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii reveal incredible detail of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere, which can be seen at different wavelengths. Photos that will help scientists understand what is driving the formation of massive storms on the gas giant.
Scientists have just captured images of the atmosphere of Jupiter under different wavelengths : visible, infrared and ultraviolet. These pictures come from the hubble telescope and you Gemini North laboratory, based in Hawaii. They should allow researchers to better understand how the massive storms that form in the heart of the gas giant.
Admire Jupiter in all its wavelengths
These different views reveal more details about the atmospheric characteristics of Jupiter, such as the Great Red Spot, super thunderstorms and gargantuan cyclones. Visible and ultraviolet views were captured by the Hubble Space Telescope’s wide-field camera, while the infrared image is from the Near-InfraRed Imager (NIRI) instrument in Gemini North, Hawaii. All observations were taken simultaneously (at 3:41 p.m. UT) on January 11, 2017.
These three portraits allow scientists to glean information otherwise unavailable. In the case of Jupiter, its appearance is very different depending on the wavelengths. The Great Red Spot of the planet is almost invisible to infrared, for example. Jupiter’s counter-rotating cloud bands, on the contrary, are clearly visible in all three views.
See also: Jupiter: fly over the giant planet through the eyes of the Juno probe
The Great Red Spot, over 300 km deep, is not the only storm visible in these images. A another storm located at the bottom right of its counterpart formed from the merger of three storms of similar size in 2000. In the visible wavelength image (middle), this storm displays a clearly defined red outer edge with a white center. The Juno probe had also sent astounding photos of bluish cyclones to the south pole of the planet.
An atmospheric phenomenon that appears in the infrared image is a bright trail located in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter. This feature – a cyclonic vortex, or perhaps a series of eddies – stretches 72,000 kilometers in an east-west direction. At ultraviolet wavelengths, on the other hand, this characteristic is hardly visible. In addition to providing a beautiful panoramic view of Jupiter, these observations provide essential information on the atmosphere of the giant planet, each wavelength allowing to observe different layers of clouds.