Hubble’s two new views of Jupiter (January 2024)

The giant planet Jupiter, in all its banded glory, is revisited by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope in these latest images, taken on 5–6 January 2024, that capture both sides of the planet. Hubble monitors Jupiter and the other outer Solar System planets every year under the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy programme (OPAL). This is because these large worlds are shrouded in clouds and hazes stirred up by violent winds, leading to a kaleidoscope of ever-changing weather patterns.

[left image] - Big enough to swallow Earth, the classic Great Red Spot stands out prominently in Jupiter's atmosphere. To its lower right, at a more southerly latitude, is a feature sometimes dubbed Red Spot Jr. This anticyclone was the result of storms merging in 1998 and 2000, and it first appeared red in 2006 before returning to a pale beige in subsequent years. This year it is somewhat redder again. The source of the red coloration is unknown but may involve a range of chemical compounds: sulphur, phosphorus or organic material. Staying in their lanes, but moving in opposite directions, Red Spot Jr. passes the Great Red Spot about every two years. Another small red anticyclone appears in the far north.

[right image] - Storm activity also appears in the opposite hemisphere. A pair of storms: a deep red cyclone and a reddish anticyclone, appear to be next to each other at right of centre. They look so red that at first glance, it looks like Jupiter skinned a knee. These storms are rotating in opposite directions, indicating an alternating pattern of high- and low-pressure systems. For the cyclone, there’s an upwelling on the edges with clouds descending in the middle causing a clearing in the atmospheric haze.

The storms are expected to bounce past each other because their opposing clockwise and counterclockwise rotations make them repel each other. 

Toward the left edge of the image is the innermost Galilean moon, Io — the most volcanically active body in the Solar System, despite its small size (only slightly larger than Earth's moon). Hubble resolves volcanic outflow deposits on the surface. Hubble's sensitivity to blue and violet wavelengths clearly reveals interesting surface features.

[Image description: A side-by-side image showing both faces of Jupiter on the black background of space. The left image is labelled January 5, 2024. Jupiter is banded with stripes of brownish orange, light grey, soft yellow, and shades of cream, punctuated with many large storms and small white clouds. The Great Red Spot is the most prominent feature in the left bottom third of this view. The right image is labelled January 6, 2024. This opposite side of Jupiter is also banded with stripes of brownish orange, light grey, soft yellow, and shades of cream. At upper right of centre, a pair of storms appear next to each other: a deep-red, triangle-shaped cyclone and a reddish anticyclone. Toward the far-left edge of this view is Jupiter’s tiny orange-coloured moon Io.]


NASA, ESA, J. DePasquale (STScI), A. Simon (NASA-GSFC)

About the Image

Release date:14 March 2024, 15:00
Related releases:heic2404
Size:2625 x 1311 px

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Category:Solar System

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