Sunday 10 May 2020

Lucky Infrared Images of Jupiter

Back in 2011 I noted some IR shots of outer planets by Mike Brown at Caltech, at a wavelength of 1.5 µm.

Last week another fascinating set of images, this time of Jupiter, emerged. These were at 4.7 µm and rather than a demonic cricket ball this time the infrared image resembled a jack-o'lantern.

This wavelength reveals a glow from relatively warm deeper layers of the atmosphere breaking through upper cloud layers. In visible light this is obscured by even higher haze in the atmosphere. The image here is a composite built from a number of so-called 'lucky' images, captured from earth during brief pauses in our atmospheric turbulence. The instrument was the Gemini North telescope on Hawaii’s Maunakea volcano, at an altitude a little over 4,200 metres.

To find out more, I'll point you at the paper available on the Gemini Observatory web site.

[Image credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA M.H. Wong (UC Berkeley) and team Acknowledgments: Mahdi Zamani.]