New ‘lucky’ image of Jupiter captured by astronomers

Astronomers have produced a remarkable new image of Jupiter, tracing the glowing regions of warmth that lurk beneath the gas giant’s cloud tops.

It took hundreds of exposures to build this sharp image mosaic of Jupiter in the infrared. GEMINI OBSERVATORY/M.H.WONG ET AL

Astronomers have captured the highest resolution images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground using a technique known as “lucky imaging technique.”

Using a technique called “lucky imaging technique”, scientists at the University of California at Berkeley could capture one of the sharpest observations of the planet ever made from the ground. They have been captured in infrared by the Gemini North Telescope on Hawaii’s dormant volcano Mauna Kea.

The remarkable images trace the glowing regions of warmth that lurk beneath the gas giant’s cloud tops and reveal lightning strikes and storm systems forming around deep clouds of water ice and liquid.

This method involves acquiring multiple exposures of the target and only keeping those segments of an image where that turbulence is at a minimum.

When all the “lucky shots” are put together in a mosaic, a clarity emerges that’s beyond just the single exposure.

How was this done?

Infrared is a longer wavelength than the more familiar visible light detected by the likes of the Hubble telescope. It is used to see past the haze and thin clouds at the top of Jupiter’s atmosphere, to give scientists the opportunity to probe deeper into the planet’s internal workings.

Researchers want to understand better what makes and sustains the gas giant’s weather systems, and in particular the great storms that can rage for decades and even centuries.

Source: BBC NEWS

Fast facts about Jupiter

  • Jupiter is 11 times wider than Earth and 300 times more massive
  • It takes 12 Earth years to orbit the Sun; a ‘day’ is 10 hours long
  • In composition it resembles a star; it’s mostly hydrogen and helium
  • Under pressure, the hydrogen assumes a state similar to a metal
  • This ‘metallic hydrogen’ could be the source of the magnetic field
  • Most of the visible cloud tops contain ammonia and hydrogen sulfide
  • Jupiter’s low-latitude ‘bands’ play host to very strong east-west winds
  • The Great Red Spot is a giant storm vortex wider than Planet Earth

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