• newswise-fullscreen Hubble's New Portrait of Jupiter

    Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

    This new Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. The colors, and their changes, provide important clues to ongoing processes in Jupiter's atmosphere. The bands are created by differences in the thickness and height of the ammonia ice clouds. The colorful bands, which flow in opposite directions at various latitudes, result from different atmospheric pressures. Lighter bands rise higher and have thicker clouds than the darker bands. Among the most striking features in the image are the rich colors of the clouds moving toward the Great Red Spot, a storm rolling counterclockwise between two bands of clouds. These two cloud bands, above and below the Great Red Spot, are moving in opposite directions. The red band above and to the right (northeast) of the Great Red Spot contains clouds moving westward and around the north of the giant tempest. The white clouds to the left (southwest) of the storm are moving eastward to the south of the spot. All of Jupiter's colorful cloud bands in this image are confined to the north and south by jet streams that remain constant, even when the bands change color. The bands are all separated by winds that can reach speeds of up to 400 miles (644 kilometers) per hour. On the opposite side of the planet, the band of deep red color northeast of the Great Red Spot and the bright white band to the southeast of it become much fainter. The swirling filaments seen around the outer edge of the red super storm are high-altitude clouds that are being pulled in and around it. The Great Red Spot is a towering structure shaped like a wedding cake, whose upper haze layer extends more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) higher than clouds in other areas. The gigantic structure, with a diameter slightly larger than Earth's, is a high-pressure wind system called an anticyclone that has been slowly downsizing since the 1800s. The reason for this change in size is still unknown. A worm-shaped feature located below the Great Red Spot is a cyclone, a vortex around a low-pressure area with winds spinning in the opposite direction from the Red Spot. Researchers have observed cyclones with a wide variety of different appearances across the planet. The two white oval-shaped features are anticyclones, like small versions of the Great Red Spot. Another interesting detail is the color of the wide band at the equator. The bright orange color may be a sign that deeper clouds are starting to clear out, emphasizing red particles in the overlying haze. The new image was taken in visible light as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program, or OPAL. The program provides yearly Hubble global views of the outer planets to look for changes in their storms, winds, and clouds. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Jupiter when the planet was 400 million miles from Earth, when Jupiter was near "opposition" or almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky.

  • newswise-fullscreen Hubble's New Portrait of Jupiter

    Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

    This Hubble Space Telescope image highlights the distinct bands of roiling clouds that are characteristic of Jupiter's atmosphere. The view represents a stretched-out map of the entire planet. Several cloud bands, which are parallel to the equator (currently orange in hue), are confined by jet streams that blow in opposite directions at different latitudes. A series of red oval-shaped cyclones is embedded in the red, swirling band of clouds above the equator. Just above this cloud band are white, oval-shaped wind systems called anticyclones. While cyclones are low-pressure areas, anticyclones are high-pressure regions, whose winds blow in the opposite direction from winds in cyclones. Another characteristic string of white oval-shaped anticyclones, seen for decades, appears along one latitude band in the planet's southern hemisphere. Jupiter's iconic Great Red Spot is the orange-colored oval on the left side of the image. This giant anticyclone is rotating counterclockwise and has a diameter slightly larger than the entire Earth's. It appears more orange than red in this image, with a small core of deep-orange color at the center. Clouds moving toward the giant storm from right to left are darker than in recent Hubble observations. The clouds to the south, which are moving toward the Great Red Spot from west to east, are whiter than in past studies. The Great Red Spot has been decreasing in size since the 1800s. A surprise is the color of Red Spot Jr., a storm smaller than the Great Red Spot, which has faded from red to white over the past couple of years. Red Spot Jr. appears near the center of the map, at a more southerly latitude than its legendary big cousin. Telescopes originally identified Red Spot Jr. as a white, oval-shaped storm, created when three white ovals merged about 20 years ago. Like a chameleon, it changed its color, turning red in observations made in 2005. See https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2006/news-2006-19 and https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2008/news-2008-23. Now, it has changed back to its original color. Researchers cannot yet explain why Red Spot Jr. turned white again, or even why it turned red in the first place. Astronomers suggest the red color is caused by gases in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere interacting with the Sun's ultraviolet light. One idea for the white color is that red dust permeates the atmosphere. Sometimes ice condenses on the dust particles, giving them a frosty appearance and subduing the brighter colors. Precise color measurements using Hubble data suggest that these complex processes may operate differently in the Great Red Spot and Red Spot Jr. Researchers combined several Hubble exposures to create this flat map, which excludes the polar regions (above 80 degrees latitude). The Hubble image is part of yearly maps of the entire planet taken as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program, or OPAL. The program provides yearly Hubble global views of the outer planets to look for changes in their storms, winds, and clouds.

FOR RELEASE: 10:00 a.m. (EDT) August 8, 2019

PHOTO NO.: STScI-PRC19-36a

HUBBLE'S NEW PORTRAIT OF JUPITER

Newswise — This new Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. The colors, and their changes, provide important clues to ongoing processes in Jupiter's atmosphere.

The bands are created by differences in the thickness and height of the ammonia ice clouds. The colorful bands, which flow in opposite directions at various latitudes, result from different atmospheric pressures. Lighter bands rise higher and have thicker clouds than the darker bands.

Among the most striking features in the image are the rich colors of the clouds moving toward the Great Red Spot, a storm rolling counterclockwise between two bands of clouds. These two cloud bands, above and below the Great Red Spot, are moving in opposite directions. The red band above and to the right (northeast) of the Great Red Spot contains clouds moving westward and around the north of the giant tempest. The white clouds to the left (southwest) of the storm are moving eastward to the south of the spot.

All of Jupiter's colorful cloud bands in this image are confined to the north and south by jet streams that remain constant, even when the bands change color. The bands are all separated by winds that can reach speeds of up to 400 miles (644 kilometers) per hour.

On the opposite side of the planet, the band of deep red color northeast of the Great Red Spot and the bright white band to the southeast of it become much fainter. The swirling filaments seen around the outer edge of the red super storm are high-altitude clouds that are being pulled in and around it.

The Great Red Spot is a towering structure shaped like a wedding cake, whose upper haze layer extends more than 3 miles (5 kilometers) higher than clouds in other areas. The gigantic structure, with a diameter slightly larger than Earth's, is a high-pressure wind system called an anticyclone that has been slowly downsizing since the 1800s. The reason for this change in size is still unknown.

A worm-shaped feature located below the Great Red Spot is a cyclone, a vortex around a low-pressure area with winds spinning in the opposite direction from the Red Spot. Researchers have observed cyclones with a wide variety of different appearances across the planet. The two white oval-shaped features are anticyclones, like small versions of the Great Red Spot.

Another interesting detail is the color of the wide band at the equator. The bright orange color may be a sign that deeper clouds are starting to clear out, emphasizing red particles in the overlying haze.

The new image was taken in visible light as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program, or OPAL. The program provides yearly Hubble global views of the outer planets to look for changes in their storms, winds, and clouds.

Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Jupiter when the planet was 400 million miles from Earth, when Jupiter was near "opposition" or almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky.

Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between NASA and ESA (European Space Agency). NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble science operations. STScI is operated for NASA by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy in Washington, D.C.

For images and more information about Jupiter and Hubble, visit:

https://hubblesite.org/contents/news-releases/2019/news-2019-36

http://www.nasa.gov/hubble

https://spacetelescope.org/news/heic1914

Donna Weaver / Ray Villard
Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Maryland
410-338-4493 / 410-338-4514
dweaver@stsci.edu / villard@stsci.edu

Amy Simon
Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland
amy.simon@nasa.gov

Mike Wong
University of California, Berkeley, California
mikewong@astro.berkeley.edu

 


Comment/Share

Chat now!
1.46843