Astronomers Peek Through Jupiter's Clouds


U.S. astronomers have obtained data giving them a peek under the clouds of Jupiter using the Karl G Jansky Very Large Array telescope in New Mexico.

The multi-antenna telescope revealed traces of ammonia in the gas giant, which is just bellow the planet's clouds, the BBC reported.

The team of astronomers based in New Mexico have even managed to observe the Great Red Spot, which is a large storm ravaging the gas giant for over 400 years, in greater detail.

The astronomers were delighted to reveal that the level of detail gathered was unprecedented with this type of study. A team-member, Michael Wong of the University of California in Berkley, disclosed that this was possible due to the upgrade done to the VLA added with a newly developed technique by one of his co-workers.

Their data shows different zones within tens of kilometers into Jupiter's atmosphere, as well as turbulent features, vortices, and the great red storm, which is quite a landmark on the planet surface, according to Gizmodo.

The upgrade, along with the new technique has made the telescope into a more sensitive observational tool. It makes use of radio emissions to create a picture of the planet, in contrary to a conventional telescope which makes use of visible light to project the image.

This allows the astronomers to peek through the dense atmosphere of the planet, enabling more data to be studied. The process also eliminates the smearing effect caused by long exposure shots and the fast rotating planet, as the planet's "day" is only 10 Earth-hours.

The radio wavelengths revealed that the seemingly calm planet is actually has a dynamic atmosphere and weather patterns. The average pressure of the atmosphere fluctuates between 2 to 3 bar, as explained by the Science Magazine.

The planet features low-ammonia concentration locations which helps the VLA to get a better view, where ammonia primarily makes the gas giant opaque.

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