Jupiter’s "Radio Light Show" -Reveals Most Gargantuan Storms in the Solar System


Jupiter is known for its massive storms, but trying to peer inside them requires teamwork by the Juno spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope and the ground-based Gemini North telescope in Hawaii.

The astronomers additionally received to know that darkish spots within the well-known Nice Crimson Spot, a large storm vortex wider than Earth, are nothing however gaps within the cloud cowl.

Images of the great red spot of Jupiter, made using data collected by the Hubble space telescope and the International Gemini Observatory.

The online publication mentioned above revealed that in order to create these images, experts used a technique that's called "lucky imaging".

The "lucky imaging" process involves taking a huge number of photos of the planet at multiple exposures, but only keeping the sharpest ones. The result, in this case, is some of the sharpest infrared images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground.

"These images rival the view from space", said Wong in a press release.

Combining Hubble's visible-light images of the storm with Gemini's infrared observations shows the dark holes in the cloud layer.

"Juno's microwave radiometer probes deep into the planet's atmosphere by detecting high-frequency radio waves that can penetrate through the thick cloud layers". "This is is important for understanding how Jupiter and the other gas and ice giants formed, and therefore how the solar system as a whole formed".

"This is our equivalent of a weather satellite".

Jupiter as seen in visible wavelengths of light by Hubble

The images are part of a multi-year joint observing program with the Hubble Space Telescope in support of NASA's Juno mission.

"Visible-light observation couldn't distinguish between darker cloud material, and thinner cloud cover over Jupiter's warm interior, so their nature remained a mystery", said planetary scientist Glenn Orton of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

New snapshots of Jupiter reveal its turbulent weather in infrared - the spectrum of light just beyond visible wavelengths.

Images from Juno, together with previous missions to Jupiter, revealed dark features within the Great Red Spot that appeared, disappeare and changed shape over time.

These include deep water vapour clouds, large convective towers made of moist air similar to thunderhead clouds on Earth, and clear areas below.

The Gemini data gave the researchers an overview of the deep water clouds, providing them with "another tool to estimate the amount of water in Jupiter's atmosphere", said NASA. But in thermal infrared, researchers could see that the holes reveal the brightness of Jupiter's heat escaping into space.

"It's a bit like a jack-o-lantern", said Wong.

Michael Wong is an astronomer, but he spends his days tracking storm systems and lightning flashes on Jupiter like some Earth-bound meteorologist looking for harbingers of bad weather.

"NIRI at Gemini North is the most effective way for American and Gemini International Association researchers to obtain detailed maps of Jupiter at this wavelength", says Wong. Despite that, every now and then we get a fresh look at the gas giant that reminds us of how ridiculously incredible it really is. Gemini achieved a 500-kilometer (300-mile) resolution on Jupiter.

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