Collision Leaves Giant Jupiter Bruised

Collision Leaves Giant Jupiter Bruised

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Fast Facts
News release ID: STScI-2009-25
Release Date: Sep 9, 2009
Image Use: Copyright
About this image

This Hubble picture, taken on July 23, is the first full-disk natural-color image of Jupiter made with Hubble's new camera, the Wide Field Camera 3 (WFC3). It is the sharpest visible-light picture of Jupiter since the New Horizons spacecraft flew by that planet in 2007. Each pixel in this high-resolution image spans about 74 miles (119 km) in Jupiter's atmosphere. Jupiter was more than 370 million miles (600 million km) from Earth when the images were taken.

The dark smudge at bottom right is debris from a comet or asteroid that plunged into Jupiter's atmosphere and disintegrated.

In addition to the fresh impact, the image reveals a spectacular variety of shapes in the swirling atmosphere of Jupiter. The planet is wrapped in bands of yellow, brown, and white clouds. These bands are produced by the atmosphere flowing in different directions at various latitudes. When these opposing flows interact, turbulence appears.

Such data complement the images taken from other telescopes and spacecraft by providing exquisite details of atmospheric phenomena. For example, the image suggests that dark "barges" – tracked by amateur astronomers on a nightly basis – may differ both in form and color from barge features identified by the Voyager spacecraft. (The Great Red Spot and the smaller Red Oval are both out of view on the other side of the planet.)

This color image is a composite of three separate color exposures (red, blue, and green) made by WFC3. Additional processing was done to compensate for asynchronous imaging in the color filters and other effects.

Astronomical, Hubble Telescope, Jupiter, Planetary Atmospheres/Weather, Planets, Solar System


NASA, ESA, M. Wong (Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, Md.), H. B. Hammel (Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.), and the Jupiter Impact Team