Scientists Capture Stunning New Images of Jupiter

Tuesday morning, scientists at the International Gemini Observatory release three stunning images of Jupiter that scientists managed to capture using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and a few other tools at their disposal. The three images released to the public show the gas giant in three different types of light, each one placing a different emphasis on the planet's many permanent storms — including the Great Red Spot.

The three images captured show Jupiter's infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light wavelengths, and will hopefully provide data for researchers to study further. You can see the images below.

In addition to the Hubble telescope, University of California research Mike Wong and his team were able to use previously captured date from NASA's Juno spacecraft to essentially splice together the images.

“Previous NASA spacecraft data had shown that regions with active convection, as marked by lightning activity, contained both towering convective plumes and clouds so deep they must be formed by condensed water,” Wong writes in a blog post on the NSF's NOIRLab website. “Gemini revealed that these active regions are also dotted with infrared-bright spots, where turbulent downdrafts create clearings in the cloud decks. Data from Juno, Gemini and Hubble were then combined to map the cloud structure of stormy convective regions in three dimensions, especially the different types of cyclonic vortices.”

He adds, “Juno detected a whole bunch of lightning flashes at radio wavelengths that are associated with cyclones. And we interpreted the data to show that when you have active convection, which is generating the lightning, you have this particular situation where there’s three types of clouds all jumbled together in one place: the really tall convective towers, clearings where Gemini detects bright emission, and deep water clouds.”

Wong and his team have already been able to make some observations from the images. Most notably, Wong says the team has noticed some gaps within the planet's Great Red Spot, a persistent storm that's larger than the planet we live on.


“The closest analog is eddies in the ocean,” the researcher says. “As the storm clouds spin, you can get little anomalies from these eddies that form streaks by just winding up. And that's kind of the shape that we're seeing in these holes. So it's probably just some weak turbulence, but as it spins, it gets stretched out.”

Cover photo by NASA/ESA/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/M.H. Wong and I. de Pater (UC Berkeley)