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Three years of detailed observations of Jupiter from the Earth and from space allowed us to understand many processes occurring in the gas giant’s atmosphere. The results were published in the Astrophysical journal Supplement Series.
Despite the fact that astronomers have observed Jupiter for over 400 years, many of the details of his turbulent and ever-changing atmosphere remained unclear. Now, thanks to the joint analysis data obtained using the orbital telescope “Hubble” spacecraft “Juno” and the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii, scientists were able to study in detail the mysterious Great Red Spot, a storm system, the sources of the flashes of lightning, cyclonic eddies and other features of the atmosphere of Jupiter.
The researchers, led by Michael Vaughn (Michael Wong) from the University of California at Berkeley (USA) have joined ultra-clear infrared image from Gemini Observatory multi-wavelength and ultraviolet images of Hubble and radio observations of the space station “Juno”, located directly in orbit of the planet.
This allowed the scientists to understand, how is the weather of Jupiter, to estimate the amount of water in its atmosphere, as well as better understand how the planets were formed the Solar system more than four and a half billion years ago.
“Microwave radiometer Juno penetrates deeply into the planet’s atmosphere, detecting high frequency radio waves, passing through thick layers of cloud, and the data from the Hubble and Gemini allow us to understand how powerful these clouds are and how far through them we see,” — presented in a press release, NASA explanation one of the study’s authors, Amy Simon (Amy Simon) from the Center of space flights of a name of Goddard.
As on Earth, lightning in Jupiter’s atmosphere are sources of radio waves and visible light. Due to the combination of lightning flashes detected by “Juno” optical images of Hubble and Gemini infrared images, scientists found that lightning strikes and the largest of the storm systems which create them, are formed in and around a large convective cell over the clouds of water and ice.
For the occurrence of lightning is required to meet the atmospheric structures of the three types, scientists say: low saturated with water clouds, large convective “towers” that are generated by the ascent of moist air, mass of fresh air, descending toward the planet’s surface outside convective “towers”.
“Lightning is a marker of convection, turbulent mixing process, which transfers the internal heat of Jupiter to the visible tops of the clouds,” explains Michael Vaughn.
Scientists believe that the lightning are common in turbulent areas, known as the folded filamentary region, and convective “towers” is the cyclonic eddies where the internal energy is released as moist convection.
“Further studies of the sources of lightning will help us to understand how convection on Jupiter is different from convection in the Earth’s atmosphere or something similar to it,” says Vaughn.
With the ability to compare the images in visible light from Hubble with infrared thermal images of the Observatory of dzhemini, consistently removed within a few hours, the researchers were able to unravel one of the mysteries of the Great red Spot of Jupiter. It turned out that the dark objects in it that appear and disappear, changing shape over time, not the accumulation of more dense material, as previously thought, but just the gaps in the clouds.
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