Share This Article
NASA published this original post at the Webb Space Telescope site on October 19, 2023. Edits by EarthSky.
Webb finds new full-length in Jupiter’s atmosphere
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has discovered a new, never-before-seen full-length in Jupiter’s atmosphere. The high-speed jet stream is increasingly than 3,000 miles (4,800 km) wide, in unrelatedness to just a few hundreds of miles wide, at most, for Earth’s jet streams. It sits over Jupiter’s equator, whilom the main deject decks.
Ricardo Hueso of the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, is the lead tragedian on a new paper describing the findings. Hueso said:
This is something that totally surprised us. What we have unchangingly seen as voiceless hazes in Jupiter’s undercurrent now towards as well-done features that we can track withal with the planet’s fast rotation.
The scientists said this discovery of the jet gives them insights into how the layers of Jupiter’s famously turbulent undercurrent interact. The peer-reviewed periodical Nature published their findings on October 19, 2023.
The 2024 lunar calendars are here! Best Christmas gifts in the universe! Check ’em out here.
New data from Webb
The research team analyzed data that Webb’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) captured in 2022. The data came from the Early Release Science program, which Imke de Pater from the University of California, Berkeley, and Thierry Fouchet from the Observatory of Paris, jointly lead. The program takes images of Jupiter 10 hours apart. That’s the same as one Jupiter day. It uses four variegated filters, each uniquely worldly-wise to snift small changes at variegated altitudes of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
De Pater said:
Even though various ground-based telescopes, spacecraft like NASA’s Juno and Cassini, and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have observed the Jovian system’s waffly weather patterns, Webb has once provided new findings on Jupiter’s rings, satellites and its atmosphere.
A view of a higher layer in Jupiter’s atmosphere
Jupiter is variegated from Earth in many ways. Jupiter is a gas giant; Earth is a rocky, temperate world. But both planets have layered atmospheres. These other missions have observed in infrared, visible, radio and ultraviolet-light wavelengths. They could snift the lower, deeper layers of the planet’s atmosphere, where gigantic storms and ammonia ice clouds reside.
On the other hand, Webb’s farther-than-before squint into the near-infrared is sensitive to higher-altitude layers of the atmosphere. These layers are virtually 15-30 miles (25-50 km) whilom Jupiter’s deject tops. In near-infrared imaging, high-altitude hazes typically towards blurry, with enhanced splendor over the equatorial region. With Webb, preferably details resolve within the bright, hazy band.
The newly discovered jet stream
The newly discovered jet stream travels at well-nigh 320 miles per hour (515 kph), twice the sustained winds of a Category 5 hurricane here on Earth. Its location is virtually 25 miles (40 km) whilom the clouds, in Jupiter’s lower stratosphere.
By comparing the winds Webb observed at upper altitudes to the winds Hubble observed in deeper layers, the team could measure how fast the winds transpiration with upland and generate wind shears.
Webb and Hubble team up
Webb’s exquisite resolution and wavelength coverage unliable the detection of small deject features used to track the jet. Meanwhile, complementary observations that Hubble took one day without were moreover crucial to determine the wiring state of Jupiter’s equatorial undercurrent and observe the minutiae of convective storms (or thunderstorms) in Jupiter’s equinoctial not unfluctuating to the jet.
Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley, who led the associated Hubble observations, said:
We knew the variegated wavelengths of Webb and Hubble would reveal the three-dimensional structure of storm clouds. But we were moreover worldly-wise to use the timing of the data to see how rapidly storms develop.
The researchers are looking forward to spare observations of Jupiter with Webb to determine if the jet’s speed and upland transpiration over time. Team member Leigh Fletcher of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom said:
Jupiter has a complicated but repeatable pattern of winds and temperatures in its equatorial stratosphere, upper whilom the winds in the clouds and hazes measured at these wavelengths. If the strength of this new jet is unfluctuating to this oscillating stratospheric pattern, we might expect the jet to vary considerably over the next 2 to 4 years. It’ll be really heady to test this theory in the years to come.
It’s wondrous to me that, without years of tracking Jupiter’s clouds and winds from numerous observatories, we still have increasingly to learn well-nigh Jupiter. And features like this jet can remain subconscious from view until these new NIRCam images were taken in 2022.
Bottom line: The Webb space telescope revealed a jet stream in Jupiter’s undercurrent whilom its equatorial region.
Source: An intense narrow equatorial jet in Jupiter’s lower stratosphere observed by JWST