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.
In the upper half of the image, you can also see a long, slim brown feature called a brown barge, a type of weather formation that stretches nearly 45,000 miles across the planet.
In the infrared view of Jupiter (directly below), captured by the Gemini North telescope in Hawaii, you can see warmer areas of the planet indicated in brighter colors. There are four notable hot spots just above the equator, while in this wavelength the Great Red Spot appears dark because of its clouds.
Finally, the stunning ultraviolet image directly below was also captured by Hubble. In this image, the Great Red Spot is dark but clearly visible. The infrared and visible light images pick up on the molecules that give the spot its distinctive color, called chromophores, and absorb blue and ultraviolet light.
By comparing these three images, scientists are able to examine features they might miss if they looked in only one wavelength. They can also compare features across wavelengths, as all three images were captured at the same time, on January 11, 2017.
- Hubble captures an image of the stunning star-forming Prawn Nebula
- Go on a ‘Grand Tour’ of the outer solar system with these Hubble images
- Hubble gets in the festive mood with an image of the Snowman Nebula
- Gaze into the Cleopatra’s Eye nebula, captured by Hubble
- Hubble spots a ‘superbubble’ in a beautiful emission nebula