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Is Jupiter Burning? See Giant Planet As Never Before In Hubble’s Stunning New Images

  

Is Jupiter in flames? The newest images from the Hubble Space Telescope may hint so, but this unbelievable image of our giant planet is, in fact, based entirely on infrared light.

 

Sensational new images of Jupiter captured by Hubble and the Gemini North telescope in Hawaiʻi display the planet in three various kinds of light—infrared, visible and ultraviolet.

 


This infrared view of Jupiter was created from information captured on 11 January 2017 with the Near-InfraRed Imager (NIRI) equipment at Gemini North in Hawaiʻi, the northern associate of the international Gemini Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab. It is in reality a mosaic of single frames that were united to produce a worldly portrait of the planet. In the picture warmer areas appear bright, adding four large hot spots that appear in a row just north of the equator. South of the equator, the oval-shaped and cloud-covered Great Red Spot appears dark. NTERNATIONAL GEMINI OBSERVATORY/NOIRLAB/NSF/AURA, M.H. WONG (UC BERKELEY) ET AL. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: M. ZAMANI

 

Jointly these wavelengths of light uncover details of the planet’s notable Great Red Spot, a violent storm first discovered in 1831 that’s twice as big as Earth, and where winds reach 268 mph/432 km/h.

 

Three images of Jupiter show the gas giant in three different types of light — infrared, visible, and ultraviolet. INTERNATIONAL GEMINI OBSERVATORY/NOIRLAB/NSF/AURA/NASA/ESA, M.H. WONG AND I. DE PATER (UC BERKELEY) ET AL.

 

The images also uncover superstorms and cyclones that expand across the planet.

 

The visible and ultraviolet images were taken by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 while the infrared image were captured from the Near-InfraRed Imager on Gemini North. All the pictures were captured at the same time at 15:41 Universal Time on January 11, 2017.

 

What is multiwavelength astronomy?

 

It’s the viewing of planets and new astronomical objects at different wavelengths of light, highlighting characteristic that would otherwise be unnoticed.

 

For example, Jupiter’s Great Red Spot storm rules the visible and ultraviolet images, but is nearly invisible in infrared.

 

This ultraviolet image of Jupiter was created from data captured on 11 January 2017 using the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope. The Great Red Spot and Red Spot Jr. (also known as Oval BA) absorb ultraviolet radiation from the Sun and therefore appear dark in this view.  NASA/ESA/NOIRLAB/NSF/AURA/M.H. WONG AND I. DE PATER (UC BERKELEY) ET AL. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: M. ZAMANI

 

There are many other examples here of why multiwavelength astronomy is so helpful:

  • the dark area of the Great Red Spot in the infrared image is bigger than the corresponding red oval in the visible image. The former shows heavy clouds while the visible image displays particles that give the Great Red Spot its color by absorbing blue and ultraviolet light.
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  • a bright stripe in the northern hemisphere—a cyclonic vortex—appears dark brown in visible light yet hardly visible in ultraviolet light.
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  • four large “hot spots” below look bright in the infrared image yet dark in the other images.

 

This visible-light image of Jupiter was created from data captured on 11 January 2017 using the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope. Near the top, a long brown feature called a ‘brown barge’ extends 72,000 kilometers (nearly 45,000 miles) in the east-west direction. The Great Red Spot stands out prominently in the lower left, while the smaller feature nicknamed Red Spot Jr. (known to Jovian scientists as Oval BA) appears to its lower right. NASA/ESA/NOIRLAB/NSF/AURA/M.H. WONG AND I. DE PATER (UC BERKELEY) ET AL. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: M. ZAMANI

 

The NASA Juno spacecraft’s close flyby in April of Jupiter’s cloud-tops witnessed this monster storm in its mid-northern hemisphere, as processed by citizen scientists Kevin M Gill:

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