Astronomers get ‘lucky’, obtain some of the sharpest-ever images of Jupiter
Scientists got ‘lucky’ recently when they captured some of the highest resolution images of planet Jupiter ever obtained from the ground.
These images were obtained using a technique known as ‘lucky imaging’ with the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii. When combined with observations from Nasa’s Hubble Space Telescope and Juno mission, these images of Jupiter reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed in and around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid, according to the Gemini Observatory.
The images, which are part of a three-year joint observing programme, also confirm that dark spots in the famous Great Red Spot are actually gaps in the cloud cover and not due to cloud colour variations.
The planet’s Great Red spot is a giant storm bigger than Earth that has raged for hundreds of years.
The ‘lucky imaging’ technique gives astronomers a large number of very short exposure images and of these, only the sharpest images - when the Earth’s atmosphere is briefly stable - are used. The result in this case is some of the sharpest infrared images of Jupiter ever obtained from the ground, lead researcher Michael Wong of UC Berkeley was quoted as saying by the Gemini Observatory.
“The Gemini data were critical because they allowed us to probe deeply into Jupiter’s clouds on a regular schedule,” said Wong.
He said the images obtained from Gemini North Telescope “rival the view from space.”
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system, more than twice as massive as all the other planets combined. The stripes and swirls seen on its atmosphere are actually cold, windy clouds of ammonia and water, floating in an atmosphere of hydrogen and helium.