Skip to main content

Hubble images Jupiter, our Solar System’s most beautiful planet

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope reveals the intricate, detailed beauty of Jupiter’s clouds in this new image taken on 27 June 2019 by Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, when the planet was 644 million kilometers from Earth — its closest distance this year. NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

Arguably our Solar System’s most beautiful planet, Jupiter, has been imaged in stunning detail by the Hubble Space Telescope.

The image shows more intense colors than previous images of the planet, showing off the dramatic cloud formations which move in bands, giving the planet its striped appearance. Bands of clouds move in different directions, due to the differing thicknesses of ammonia ice clouds. The darker bands are areas with thinner clouds, while the lighter bands have thicker clouds.

Related Videos

And there’s a visible feature you might not have seen before: beneath the red “Eye”, there is a long, thin brown shape. This is a cyclone, which spins in the opposite direction of the Eye. Cyclones like this appear and disappear with some regularity on the planet.

As well as the image of Jupiter as a whole, the Hubble team also shared this stretched image of Jupiter’s atmosphere:

The image features the distinct bands of roiling clouds that are characteristic of Jupiter’s atmosphere and represents a stretched-out map of the entire planet. Researchers combined several Hubble exposures to create this flat map, which excludes the polar regions (above 80 degrees latitude). NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

Here you can see the cloud formations which cover Jupiter’s surface, with bands of chaotic and active clouds moving through the atmosphere. To create this image, the Hubble scientists took several different images captured by Hubble and stitched them together to show a stretched-out image of the entire planet, minus the poles.

You can see Jupiter’s distinctive Eye to the left of the image, also known as the Great Red Spot, which is the largest known storm in the Solar System. The storm grew so large at one point that is was twice as wide as Earth, though it has since shrunk down to about half that size. It has been raging for at least 150 years, but scientists are still not sure why the eye appears in its signature reddish-brown color, as other smaller storms on the planet appear to be white or brown.

Editors' Recommendations

Solar Orbiter captures incredible video of a coronal mass ejection
The sun, as captured by Solar Orbiter's Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on 12-13 February 2021.

The sun, as captured by Solar Orbiter's Extreme Ultraviolet Imager (EUI) instrument on 12-13 February 2021. Solar Orbiter/EUI Team/Metis Team/SoloHI team/ESA & NASA

The European Space Agency's Solar Orbiter spacecraft has captured video of an explosion of plasma from the sun, called a coronal mass ejection, for the first time.

Read more
Beyond our solar system, Voyager 1 picks up the hum of interstellar gas
The Voyager spacecraft continue to make discoveries even as they travel through interstellar space. In a new study, University of Iowa physicists report on the Voyagers' detection of cosmic ray electrons associated with eruptions from the sun--more than 14 billion miles away.

In this artist's depiction, the Voyager 1 craft continues to cruise through interstellar space. NASA/JPL-Caltech

The two most distant man-made objects in the universe are the Voyager probes, launched in the 1970s. The probes zipped through our solar system and eventually passed out into the interstellar space beyond,. And in a remarkable feat of engineering, even though they are over 40 years old, they are still working and collecting important scientific data.

Read more
Beautiful images show the stripes of Jupiter in three different wavelengths
jupiter images wavelengths hubble ultraviolet view of

If you think Jupiter is beautiful in the visible light spectrum, wait until you see it in infrared and ultraviolet. Three new images of the planet have been released by the National Science Foundation's NOIRLab, showing the planet in all its beauty in various wavelengths.

The visible light image of Jupiter (directly below), captured by the Wide Field Camera 3 on the Hubble Space Telescope, will be the most familiar. The image shows the details of the bands around the planet, formed by rotating clouds which are endlessly swirling and changing. You can also see the famous Great Red Spot in the lower half of the image to the left, which is the result of the largest storm in the solar system. The storm is over 10,000 miles wide and has wind speeds of up to 268 mph.

Read more