Swirling clouds, large color belts, giant storms. Jupiter's beautiful and incredibly turbulent atmosphere has been shown repeatedly. But what's going on under the clouds? What causes the many storms and eruptions we see on the "surface" of the planet? However, to study this, visible light is not enough. We need to investigate Jupiter using radio waves.
New images of radio waves taken with Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA), the most sophisticated astronomical observatory ever built on Earth, provide a unique view of Jupiter's atmosphere up to fifty kilometers below the planet's visible (ammonia) cloud deck .
“ALMA has enabled us to draw a three-dimensional map of the distribution of ammonia gas under the clouds. And for the first time, we were able to explore the atmosphere beneath layers of ammonia cloud after Jupiter's vigorous eruption, "said Imke de Pater of the University of California Berkeley (EE. UU).
The atmosphere of giant Jupiter is composed mainly of hydrogen and helium, along with traces of methane, ammonia, hydrosulfide and water. The upper cloud layer is composed of ammonia ice. Below this is a layer of solid ammonia hydrosulfide particles and even deeper, about 80 kilometers below the upper cloud deck, there is probably a layer of liquid water. The clouds above form the distinctive brown belts and white zones observed from Earth.
Many of Jupiter's storms take place inside these zones. They can be compared to thunderstorms on Earth and are often associated with lightning events. Storms are revealed in visible light like small bright clouds, called pluses. These eruptions can cause a major break in the belt, which can be seen for months or years.
ALMA images were taken a few days after amateur astronomers observed an eruption in Jupiter's southern equatorial zone in January 2017. First, a small bright white plume was seen, and then a large belt disturbance was observed. this continued for weeks after the eruption.
De Pater and her colleagues used ALMA to investigate the atmosphere under the plume and the collapsed belt in radio waves, and compared those with UV-visible light and infrared images taken with other telescopes at approximately
. "Our observations of ALMA are the first, which show that high levels of ammonia gas rise during the energy eruption, "says de Pater. "The combination of observations simultaneously at many different wavelengths allowed us to look at the eruption in detail. Which has led us to confirm the current theory that energy flows are triggered by moist convection at the base of water clouds that are deep in the atmosphere.
"These ALMA wavelength maps complement the maps made with the National Science Foundation's very large array of centimeter wavelengths," said Brian Butler of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. "Both maps are probed under cloud layers, which are observed at optical wavelengths and show ammonia-rich gases rising and forming the upper cloud layers (zones) and poor ammonia air sinking down (belts)."  Jupiter radio image with ALMA. ” width=”777″ height=”518″ srcset=”https://scitechdaily.com/images/Radio-Image-of-Jupiter-Made-with-ALMA.-777×518.jpg 777w, https://scitechdaily.com/images/Radio-Image-of-Jupiter-Made-with-ALMA.-300×200.jpg 300w, https://scitechdaily.com/images/Radio-Image-of-Jupiter-Made-with-ALMA.-768×512.jpg 768w” sizes=”(max-width: 777px) 100vw, 777px”/>
"The present results demonstrate excellently what can be achieved in planetary science when the object is studied with different observatories and with different wavelengths." Explains Eric Willard, ALMA astronomer, part of the research team. "ALMA, with its unprecedented sensitivity and spectral resolution in radio waves, has been working successfully with other major observatories around the world to provide data that will allow a better understanding of Jupiter's atmosphere."
Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array (ALMA), an international astronomical facility, is a partnership of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), the US National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Natural Sciences (NINS) of Japan in collaboration with the Republic of Chile. ALMA is funded by ESO on behalf of its Member States, by NSF in collaboration with the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan and by NINS in collaboration with Academia Sinica (AS) in Taiwan and the Korean Institute of Astronomy and Space Sciences (KASI).
The construction and operations of ALMA are managed by ESO on behalf of its Member States; by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), run by Associated Universities, Inc. (AUI), on behalf of North America; and from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan (NAOJ) on behalf of East Asia. The ALMA Joint Observatory (JAO) provides uniform guidance and management for the construction, commissioning and operation of ALMA.