A narrow jet stream near Jupiter’s equator has winds traveling at 320 mph.
Jupiter It contains some of the most notable features of the atmosphere in our solar system. The planet’s Great Red Spot, large enough to envelop the Earth, is almost as recognizable as some of the various rivers and mountains on the planet that we call home.
However, like Earth, Jupiter is constantly changing, and there is a lot about the planet that we have yet to learn. NASA‘s James Webb Space Telescope It unlocks some of these mysteries, revealing new features of Jupiter that we haven’t seen before, including a high-speed jet speeding above the planet’s equator. While the jet stream isn’t as visually clear or stunning as some of Jupiter’s other features, it does give researchers a fascinating insight into how the planet’s atmospheric layers interact with each other, and how Webb will aid in these investigations in the future.
The Webb Space Telescope discovers a new feature in Jupiter’s atmosphere
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has discovered a new, never-before-seen feature in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The high-speed jet, more than 3,000 miles (4,800 km) wide, lies above Jupiter’s equator above major cloud surfaces. The discovery of this jet gives insight into how the layers of Jupiter’s turbulent atmosphere interact with each other, and how Webb is uniquely able to track those features.
“This is something that completely surprised us,” said Ricardo Hueso of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, lead author of the paper describing the findings. “What we always saw as a fuzzy haze in Jupiter’s atmosphere now appears as clear features that we can track along with the planet’s rapid rotation.”
Webb’s unique imaging capabilities
The research team analyzed data from the Webb NIRCam (near infrared camera) captured in July 2022. Early Release Science Program – co-led by Imke de Pater from University of California, Berkeley and Thierry Foucher of the Paris Observatory – was designed to take images of Jupiter 10 hours apart, or one Jupiter day, in four different filters, each uniquely capable of detecting changes in small features at different altitudes of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
“Although many ground-based telescopes and spacecraft such as NASA’s Juno and… CassiniAnd NASA Hubble Space Telescope De Pater observed the changing weather patterns of the Jovian system, and Webb had already provided new findings about Jupiter’s rings, satellites, and atmosphere.
Contrasting layers of the atmosphere
While Jupiter differs from Earth in many ways — Jupiter is a gas giant, and Earth is a temperate, rocky world — both planets have layered atmospheres. The infrared, visible, radio and ultraviolet wavelengths observed by these other missions detect the lower and deeper layers of the planet’s atmosphere – where Giant storms Ammonia ice clouds are present.
On the other hand, Webb’s view farther out in the near-infrared than before is sensitive to higher layers of the atmosphere, about 15-30 miles (25-50 kilometers) above Jupiter’s cloud tops. In near-infrared imaging, high-altitude haze typically appears hazy, with enhanced brightness above the equatorial region. With Web, fine details are resolved within the blurry bright band.
Characteristics of the new jet stream
The newly discovered jet stream travels at about 320 miles per hour (515 kilometers per hour), twice as fast as the sustained winds blowing on Earth’s surface. Category 5 hurricane Here on earth. It is located about 25 miles (40 kilometers) above the clouds, in Jupiter’s lower stratosphere (see graphic above).
By comparing the winds observed by Webb at high altitudes with the winds observed by Hubble in deeper layers, the team was able to measure how quickly winds change with height and generate wind shear.
While Webb’s exquisite resolution and wavelength coverage allowed the detection of small cloud features used to track the jet, complementary observations from Hubble taken a day after Webb’s observations were also crucial for determining the ground state of Jupiter’s equatorial atmosphere and observing the development of equatorward convective storms. Jupiter is not connected to the aircraft.
“We knew that the different wavelengths of Webb and Hubble would reveal the 3D structure of storm clouds, but we were also able to use the timing of the data to see how quickly storms develop,” added team member Michael Wong of the University of California, California. California, Berkeley, who led the associated Hubble observations.
Future observations and implications
The researchers are looking forward to additional observations of Jupiter with Webb to determine whether the plane’s speed and altitude are changing over time.
“Jupiter has a complex but repetitive pattern of winds and temperatures in the equatorial stratosphere, high above the winds in clouds and fog measured at these wavelengths,” explained team member Lee Fletcher from the University of Leicester in the UK. “If the strength of this new jet is related to this oscillating stratospheric pattern, we might expect the jet to change dramatically over the next two to four years – it will be really interesting to test this theory in the coming years.”
He continued: “It is amazing to me that after years of tracking Jupiter’s clouds and winds from numerous observatories, we still have more to learn about Jupiter, and features like this one could remain hidden from view until these new NIRCam images are taken in 2022.” “. Fletcher.
The researchers’ findings were recently published in Nature astronomy.
Reference: “A narrow, condensed equatorial jet in Jupiter’s lower stratosphere observed by the James Webb Space Telescope” by Ricardo Hueso, Agustín Sanchez-La Vega, Thierry Foucher, Imke de Pater, Arati Antoniano, Lee N. Fletcher, Michael H. Wong, and Pablo Rodriguez -Offaly, Lawrence A. Sromowski, Patrick M. Frey, Glenn S. Orton, Sandrine Girlet, Patrick J. J. Irwin, Emmanuel Lelouch, Jake Harkett, Catherine de Clare, Henrik Melin, Vincent Hue, Amy A. Simon, Statia Luszcz-Cook, and Kunio M. Sayanagi, October 19, 2023, Nature astronomy.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the world’s leading space science observatory. Webb solves the mysteries of our solar system, looks beyond the distant worlds around other stars, and explores the mysterious structures and origins of our universe and our place in it. WEB is an international program led by NASA with its partners the European Space Agency (ESA).European Space Agency) and the Canadian Space Agency.
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