Images captured by two different telescopes show the largest planet in our solar system in new light. The Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii and the Hubble Space Telescope captured Jupiter in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, and revealed the remarkable properties of the atmosphere in detail.
This includes superstorms, massive hurricanes and of course the Great Red Spot – the centuries-old storm in Jupiter’s atmosphere that can engulf Earth.
This is multi-wavelength astronomy at work. Seeing a planet with different wavelengths of light can reveal aspects and features that would otherwise be invisible. Comparing them allows a greater understanding of the giant planet and its atmosphere, particles and fog.
“The North Gemini observations are made possible by the telescope position in the Monaki Science Reserve, adjacent to the summit of Monakia,” said Mike Wong, team leader and planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, in a note. . “We are grateful for the privilege of observing Ka’awela (Jupiter) from a place unique for its astronomical quality and cultural significance.”
Gemini North’s near-infrared photographer provided the infrared wavelength image to Jupiter, while Hubble did the double job of using the Wide Field Camera 3 to capture images in visible and ultraviolet light.
The three photos were taken at the same time on January 11, 2017, to allow comparison.
In the three images, Jupiter looks completely different. The Great Red Spot nearly disappears at infrared wavelengths, but the dark region inside the storm appears larger than that in the visible light image. This is due to the fact that different wavelengths of light exhibit varying structures within the storm.
The combination of Hubble’s visible light storm images and Gemini infrared observations showed that the dark features are holes in the cloud layer. In visible light, it looks dark. But in thermal infrared, researchers can see, through the holes, the glow of Jupiter’s heat seeping into space. Usually this process is blocked by massive Jupiter pulls.
In the infrared, the hot layers of Jupiter deep in the clouds appear to shine through the gaps in the clouds.
Wong compared the infrared image of Jupiter to a pumpkin lantern, however, planet Earth’s famous cloud bands can be seen at all three wavelengths.
Junior Red Spot, which scientists have named Oval BA, is a storm just below the Great Red Spot seen in visible and ultraviolet images. It formed when three storms melted in the year 2000.
Red Spot Jr. To white in recent years. This was the original color of the spot before it turned red in 2006. But the core of this storm is dark red, which may indicate that Red Spot Jr. About to go even more red in the future, like the Great Red Spot.
Another point is visible in Jupiter’s northern hemisphere in the infrared image. This particular strip is thought to be a cyclonic vortex, or series of vortices, stretching approximately 45,000 kilometers from east to west. In visible light, it appears dark brown. When NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft photographed Jupiter in 1979, scientists called these features “brown sandals”. Then these swirls almost disappear in UV light.
Jupiter is stormy
Taken together, the three different perspectives help scientists understand interesting Jupiter clouds in the layers of the atmosphere. The images can also be compared to observations made by the Juno mission, which has orbited Jupiter since 2016.
Jupiter is known for its massive storms, but trying to spy on them requires collective action from spaceships Juno, Hubble, and Gemini North. The team’s collective observations produced impressive images and revealed what is happening within the continuing giant Jupiter storms.
Jupiter storms are monsters. Storm clouds can extend 40 miles from base to summit, which is equivalent to five times the height of Earth’s storm clouds. Jupiter’s lightning also strikes three times the energy of so-called “superbolts,” the most powerful lightning strikes on Earth.
Wong and his team used this collective data to understand how thunderstorms form on Jupiter, probing holes in the clouds of the Great Red Spot and exploring the deeper layers of the planet’s usual atmosphere.
“Juno detected several lightning strikes on radio waves associated with tornadoes,” Wong said.
Lightning is more likely to occur in deep water clouds, due to moist convection. Jupiter’s large lightning and storms form in and around the large convective cells centered above the deep clouds.
Although several robotic space missions have visited Jupiter, researchers still have many doubts about how this giant gas was formed and the processes occurring on the planet.
Supporting Hubble and Gemini during the Juno mission also gives researchers a window into Jupiter’s climate in general, such as wind patterns, atmospheric waves and hurricanes, as well as their gases and heat.
This dataset is also the basis for future research that Wong is working on to determine how and why the Great Red Spot appears to be shrinking.
Although scientists do not know the cause, this reduction in storm size has been occurring since astronomers began monitoring it and recording measurements since 1930.
The gas giant has a constantly moving atmosphere, so long-range observations allow you to track changes in Jupiter over time. Scientists are eager to find out what surprises Jupiter holds in the future.
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