Infrared, visible, and ultraviolet combine to show us Jupiter’s features as never before.
The largest planet in our Solar System, Jupiter, is our own ‘failed star.’
Although it gravitationally undergoes self-compression, it’s too light to initiate nuclear fusion.
Jupiter’s enormous core temperatures — 24,000 °C (43,000 °F) — contrast with its icy cloud-tops: -145 °C (-234 °F).
The familiar bands, spots, and turbulence are superficial, optical features.
However, other wavelengths can reveal processes beneath Jupiter’s clouds.
Infrared light showcases the thickness of the clouds, planet-wide.
The strongest infrared signals indicate the thinnest clouds, allowing warmer, deeper Jovian regions to shine.
Meanwhile, ultraviolet light gets absorbed by chromophore particles, absent in white spots but present in red ones.
Back in 2017, Hubble and Gemini North viewed Jupiter simultaneously.
These multiwavelength views revealed the origin and properties of numerous phenomena.
Dark infrared regions, including the Great Red Spot (and “Red Spot Jr.”), possess thick clouds.
However, tiny infrared “dots” indicate downdrafts, creating convection and enabling Jovian lightning storms.
Visible cloud breaks in Jupiter’s bands appear hot, allowing infrared emission through.
The atmosphere is thinnest just above the equator, excepting a snake-like streak of thick, opaque clouds.
Three interactive visualizers allow interactive multiwavelength comparisons between features.
Combined with NASA’s Juno mission, scientists hope to explain Jupiter’s evolving Great Red Spot.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.
Starts With A Bang is written by Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., author of Beyond The Galaxy, and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.