Stunning new images of Jupiter reveal details of atmosphere under different lights (video)
Newly processed images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Gemini North Observatory in Hawaii reveal details of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere in different wavelengths, helping scientists understand what is driving the formation of massive storms in the gas giant.
Scientists processed the images – captured in infrared, visible and ultraviolet wavelengths – to allow for an interactive side-by-side comparison of the different views of the clouds above the gas giant.
The changing appearance of the planet in different wavelengths allows astronomers to gain new knowledge about the behavior of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Strangely, the big red spot, the giant super-storm that persists south of Jupiter’s equator, is very evident in the wavelengths of visible and ultraviolet light but almost blends into the infrared at the back. -plan.
Video: See Jupiter’s ‘big red dot’ in new visible, infrared and UV views
Jupiter in visible light captured by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Jupiter in infrared light
Comparison between the three types of wavelengths also reveals that the dark region representing the large red spot in the infrared image is larger than the corresponding red oval in the visible image. The discrepancy is because each of the imaging techniques captures different properties of the planet’s atmosphere, according to a statement from the United States National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory (NOIRLab), which released the images Tuesday, May 11.
While infrared observations show areas covered with thick clouds, visible and ultraviolet images highlight the locations of so-called chromophores, which are molecules that absorb blue and ultraviolet light, thereby giving the spot its red color. feature.
On the other hand, Jupiter’s contrarotating cloud bands are clearly visible in all three views.
The images were captured simultaneously on January 11, 2017. The ultraviolet and visible views were taken by Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope, while the infrared photo was captured by the Near-Infrared Imager (NIRI) instrument. at Gemini North in Hawaii.
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In addition to the Big Red Spot, Hubble images also reveal the Little Red Spot Jr, which formed in 2000 when three storms of similar size merged southwest of the larger superstorm. Much like the Great Red Spot, the “Junior” is barely visible in the infrared wavelength, disappearing into the larger band of cooler clouds.
Unlike the red dots, a cyclonic vortex can be seen prominently in the infrared image, spreading east to west. This series of eddies nearly 72,000 kilometers long appears as a brilliant trail in the northern hemisphere of the planet.
At visible wavelengths, the cyclone appears dark brown, leading to these types of features being referred to as brown barges in images from NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, which flew over the gas giant in 1979. At lengths of Ultraviolet wave, however, the feature is barely visible under a stratospheric haze layer, which gets darker and darker towards the north pole.
University of California scientist Mike Wong further compared the images to radio signals detected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft which is currently studying the planet. These radio signals indicate lightning in Jupiter’s atmosphere. By combining the three types of images with the lightning data, Wong and his team were able to probe various layers of cloud structure to better understand the formation processes behind Jupiter’s massive storms.
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