Hubble Takes Close Up Image Of Jupiter


06/07/2017 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Astronomy and Space News


Hubble jupiter

During April 2017 Jupiter is in opposition: it is at its closest to Earth. The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope used this special configuration to capture an image of what is by far the largest planet in the Solar System. They allow astronomers to study changes in the atmosphere of the gas giant.

The surface of Jupiter is divided into several distinct, colourful bands, running parallel to the equator. These bands are created by differences in the opacity of the clouds which have varying quantities of frozen ammonia in them; the lighter bands have higher concentrations than the darker bands. The differing concentrations are kept separate by fast winds which can reach speeds of up to 650 kilometres per hour.

The most recognisable feature on Jupiter is the huge anticyclonic storm, called the Great Red Spot — this storm is large enough to engulf a whole Earth-sized planet at once. However, as with the last images of Jupiter taken by Hubble and telescopes on the ground, this new image confirms that the huge storm which has raged on Jupiter’s surface for at least 150 years continues to shrink. The reason for this is still unknown. So Hubble will continue to observe Jupiter in the hope that scientists will solve this stormy riddle.

 

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The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA.

Image credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (GSFC)

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