(CNN) – Images from two different telescopes show Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, in new light.
The Gemini North Telescope and the Hubble Space Telescope in Hawaii captured Jupiter in visible, infrared and ultraviolet light, revealing in detail the atmospheric features of the gas giant. Super storms, giant hurricanes, and of course the Great Red Spot, a storm that has been in the atmosphere of Jupiter for centuries, are large enough to envelop the Earth.
This is multi-wavelength astronomy in action. Observing a planet at different wavelengths can reveal invisible aspects and features. Their comparison allows us to better understand the gas giant, its atmosphere, its particles, and its fog.
“Gemini North’s observations were made possible by the installation of a telescope inside the Manakiya Scientific Reserve at the top of Manakaya,” said Mike Wong, team leader and astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley. We are grateful for the privilege of observing work (Jupiter) from a particular location for its astronomical quality and cultural significance.
Gemini North’s infrared imager provided an infrared wavelength image of Jupiter, while Hubble used its wide-field camera 3 to do dual-duty duty, to capture visible and ultraviolet light.
All three pictures were taken at the same time on January 11, 2017 for comparison.
Jupiter looks completely different in all three images. The Great Red Spot almost disappears at infrared wavelengths, but the dark area inside the storm appears larger than the visible light image. This is because different wavelengths of light show different structures within the storm.
Hubble’s visible light images of the storm combined with infrared observations from Gemini found that the dark features were holes in the cloud layer. They appear dark in visible light. But in thermal infrared, researchers were able to observe Jupiter’s heat escaping into space through holes. Normally, large clouds of Jupiter would block this process.
Compare the bright infrared image of Jupiter with the very soft visual image that appears in the slider below.
Attribution: UR / NSF / Noir Lab / ESA / NASA / Gemini International Observatory
In the infrared, Jupiter’s warm layers below the clouds appear to glow through the gaps in the clouds.
Wong compared the infrared image of Jupiter to a pumpkin lamp decorated with Halloween.
At the same time, the planet’s popular cloud bands are visible at all three wavelengths.
Red Spot Jr., also known as the Oval BA, is a storm below the Great Red Spot, where visible and ultraviolet images appear. It was formed in 2000 from the merger of three storms.
What differences do you see between the ultraviolet and the visible light image?
La Manja Roja Jr. has recently faded to white. This is the true color of the area before it turned red in 2006. But the core of this storm is dark red, indicating that the Junior Red Spot will turn red again like the Great Red Spot in the future.
Above this turbulent area in the picture that appears, there is also a superstorm that looks like a white storm.
Another infrared image can be seen in the northern hemisphere of Jupiter. This particular streak is believed to be a typhoon that extends 45,000 miles from east to west. In visible light, it appears dark brown. When NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft imaged Jupiter in 1979, scientists called these features “brown brown barges”. In ultraviolet light, these vortices almost disappear.
Below them, you can see large hotspots in the infrared image.
Combined, three different perspectives allow scientists to understand the amazing clouds in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
The images can be compared to observations made by the Juno Mission, which has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016.
The planet is known for its powerful storms, but looking inside requires the teamwork of the Juno spacecraft, Hubble and Gemini North. The collective observations of this dream group produced remarkable images and revealed what was going on inside Jupiter’s colossal and constant storm.
Jupiter’s storms are terrible. Its storm clouds can stretch up to 40 miles above the ground, up to five times the height of the earth’s storm clouds. Jupiter’s lightning bolts are also very strong, as they are three times the energy of the so-called “super rays” on Earth.
Wong and his team used this total data to understand how lightning strikes Jupiter, to explore holes in the clouds of the Great Red Spot, and to look at the deeper layers of the planet’s atmosphere that are not normally seen.
“Juno detected a lot of lightning bolts in the radio waves associated with hurricanes,” Wong said. This particular situation occurs during active convection and when lightning strikes. ‘
Moisture convection can cause lightning in deep water clouds. Jupiter’s lightning bolts and large storms form in and around large convection cells located above deep clouds.
Although multiple robotic space missions have visited Jupiter, researchers still have many questions about how this gas giant formed and the processes that take place on the planet.
Support from Hubble and Gemini on the Juno mission provides researchers with a window into Jupiter’s climate, i.e. wind patterns, atmospheric waves, hurricanes, as well as its gases and heat.
The dataset is also the basis of future research by Wong to determine how and why the Great Red Spot was created. It seems to be shrinking.
Although scientists do not know why, the size of the storm has been declining since astronomers began to observe and measure it.
The gas giant has a constantly moving atmosphere, so long-term observation allows us to keep track of changes in Jupiter over time. Scientists are eager to know what surprises Jupiter will have in the future.