Thursday, October 2, 2008


This false color image of Jupiter combines a series of images taken over 20 minutes on Aug. 17 by the Multi- Conjugate Adaptive Optics Demonstrator (MAD) prototype instrument mounted on ESO's Very Large Telescope. The image sharpening corresponds to seeing details about 300 kilometers wide on the surface of the giant planet. The observations were done at infrared wavelengths where absorption due to hydrogen and methane is strong. This absorption means that light can be reflected back only from high-altitude hazes, and not from deeper clouds. These hazes lie in the very stable upper part of Jupiter's troposphere, where pressures are between 0.15 and 0.3 bar. Mixing is weak within this stable region, so tiny haze particles can survive for days to years, depending on their size and fall speed. Additionally, near the planet's poles, a higher stratospheric haze (light blue regions) is generated by interactions with particles trapped in Jupiter's intense magnetic field.
Credit: ESO & UC Berkeley/F. Marchis, M. Wong, E. Marchetti, P. Amico, S. Tordo

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