About the Object

Jupiter jet pullouts

Researchers using the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope’s NIRCam (Near-Infrared Camera) have discovered a high-speed jet stream sitting over Jupiter’s equator, above the main cloud decks. At a wavelength of 2.12 microns, which observes between altitudes of about 20-35 kilometers above Jupiter’s cloud tops, researchers spotted several wind shears, or areas where wind speeds change with height or with distance, which enabled them to track the jet. This image highlights several of the features around Jupiter’s equatorial zone that, between one rotation of the planet (10 hours), are very clearly disturbed by the motion of the jet stream.

The discovery of this jet is giving insights into how the layers of Jupiter’s famously turbulent atmosphere interact with each other, and how Webb is uniquely capable of tracking those features. Researchers are looking forward to additional observations of Jupiter with Webb to determine if the jet’s speed and altitude change over time.

These results were recently published in Nature Astronomy.

These findings may help inform ESA’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, Juice, which was launched on 14 April 2023. Juice will make detailed observations of the giant gas planet and its three large ocean-bearing moons — Ganymede, Callisto and Europa — with a suite of remote sensing, geophysical and in situ instruments. The mission will characterise these moons as both planetary objects and possible habitats, explore Jupiter’s complex environment in depth, and study the wider Jupiter system as an archetype for gas giants across the Universe.

[Image description: The infographic shows Webb’s image of Jupiter at the left. On the right side there are 8 separate images. Two of those images are horizontal and span the entire right half of the infographic. They are zoomed-in pullouts from a section of Jupiter’s equator—outlined in a white box on the image of the planet on the left. Both of these images are white and grey with horizontal wispy clouds. There are 6 smaller boxes in between the two horizontal images. The first column of the boxes is outlined in orange, the second column purple and the third yellow. Each of the smaller images correspond to orange, purple, and yellow boxes placed along the horizontal images.]


NASA, ESA, CSA, STScI, R. Hueso (University of the Basque Country), I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley), T. Fouchet (Observatory of Paris), L. Fletcher (University of Leicester), M. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), J. DePasquale (STScI)

About the Image

Id: jupiter_jetstream1
Type: Chart
Release date: 19 October 2023, 17:00
Size: 3221 x 1888 px

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