Radio waves reveal what's beneath Jupiter's clouds

An ALMA image shows how radio waves can penetrate the cloudy surface of Jupiter to reveal what's going on below.

Published: October 12, 2019 at 12:18 pm
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Jupiter captured in radio waves. Credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), I. de Pater et al.; NRAO/AUI NSF, S. Dagnello

As amateur astronomers well know, there's only so much you can see in visible light.


This image by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array was captured using radio waves and shows what's going on beneath Jupiter's stormy atmosphere.

The view shows 50km below Jupiter's visible ammonia cloud deck.

Dark bands correspond to the zones on Jupiter that are often white in visible light, while the bright bands correspond to brown belts on the planet.

The image was captured a few days after an eruption in Jupiter's South Equatorial Belt in January 2017.


Image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO), I. de Pater et al.; NRAO/AUI NSF, S. Dagnello


Iain Todd, BBC Sky at Night Magazine
Iain ToddScience journalist

Iain Todd is BBC Sky at Night Magazine's Staff Writer. He fell in love with the night sky when he caught his first glimpse of Orion, aged 10.


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