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Storms on Jupiter are disturbing the planet’s colorful belts


A closeup of the two bright white plumes (center) in the South Equatorial Belt of Jupiter and a large downstream disturbance to their right. (Image by Imke de Pater, UC Berkeley; Robert Sault, University of Melbourne; Chris Moeckel, UC Berkeley; Michael Wong, UC Berkeley; Leigh Fletcher, University of Leicester)

Storm clouds rooted deep in Jupiter’s atmosphere are affecting the planet’s white zones and colorful belts, creating disturbances in their flow and even changing their color.

Thanks to coordinated observations of the planet in January 2017 by six ground-based optical and radio telescopes and NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, a University of California, Berkeley, astronomer and her colleagues have been able to track the effects of these storms — visible as bright plumes above the planet’s ammonia ice clouds — on the belts in which they appear.

The observations will ultimately help planetary scientists understand the complex atmospheric dynamics on Jupiter, which, with its Great Red Spot and colorful, layer cake-like bands, make it one of the most beautiful and changeable of the giant gas planets in the solar system.  Read More