Researchers used the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea to capture a stunning infrared image of Jupiter using a technique known as “lucky imaging”. These Gemini images, when combined with NASA’s Hubble as well as Juno observations, reveal that lightning strikes, and some of the largest storm systems that create them, are formed around large convective cells over deep clouds of water ice and liquid. Read more for two videos and additional information.
Gemini North’s Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) enables astronomers to look deep into Jupiter’s massive storms, since the longer wavelength infrared light can pass through the thin haze, but is obscured by thicker clouds high in the atmosphere. This means a “jack-o-lantern”-like effect is created in the images where the warm, deep layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere glow through gaps in the planet’s thick cloud cover.
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Before Juno, we could only guess what Jupiter’s poles would look like. Now, with Juno flying over the poles at a close distance it permits the collection of infrared imagery on Jupiter’s polar weather patterns and its massive cyclones in unprecedented spatial resolution,” said Alberto Adriani, Juno co-investigator from the Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology, Rome.