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Jupiter by James Webb Space Telescope


English: Jupiter dominates the black background of space. The image is a composite, and shows Jupiter in enhanced color, featuring the planet’s turbulent Great Red Spot, which appears white here. The planet is striated with swirling horizontal stripes of neon turquoise, periwinkle, light pink, and cream. The stripes interact and mix at their edges like cream in coffee. Along both of the poles, the planet glows in turquoise. Bright orange auroras glow just above the planet’s surface at both poles.

“We hadn’t really expected it to be this good, to be honest,” said planetary astronomer Imke de Pater, professor emerita of the University of California, Berkeley. De Pater led the observations of Jupiter with Thierry Fouchet, a professor at the Paris Observatory, as part of an international collaboration for Webb’s Early Release Science program. Webb itself is an international mission led by NASA with its partners ESA (European Space Agency) and CSA (Canadian Space Agency).

This image comes from the observatory’s Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam), which has three specialized infrared filters that showcase details of the planet. Since infrared light is invisible to the human eye, the light has been mapped onto the visible spectrum. Generally, the longest wavelengths appear redder and the shortest wavelengths are shown as more blue. Scientists collaborated with citizen scientist Judy Schmidt to translate the Webb data into images.

In the standalone view of Jupiter, created from a composite of several images from Webb, auroras extend to high altitudes above both the northern and southern poles of Jupiter. The auroras shine in a filter that is mapped to redder colors, which also highlights light reflected from lower clouds and upper hazes. A different filter, mapped to yellows and greens, shows hazes swirling around the northern and southern poles. A third filter, mapped to blues, showcases light that is reflected from a deeper main cloud.

The Great Red Spot, a famous storm so big it could swallow Earth, appears white in these views, as do other clouds, because they are reflecting a lot of sunlight.

“The brightness here indicates high altitude – so the Great Red Spot has high-altitude hazes, as does the equatorial region,” said Heidi Hammel, Webb interdisciplinary scientist for solar system observations and vice president for science at AURA. “The numerous bright white ‘spots’ and ‘streaks’ are likely very high-altitude cloud tops of condensed convective storms.” By contrast, dark ribbons north of the equatorial region have little cloud cover.
Author NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. Image processing by Judy Schmidt.
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Public domain This file is in the public domain because it was created by NASA, ESA and CSA. NASA Webb material is copyright-free and may be freely used as in the public domain without fee, on the condition that only NASA, STScI, and/or ESA/CSA is credited as the source of the material. This license does not apply if source material from other organizations is in use.
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