Methanic Jupiter

By Phil Plait | August 14, 2007 12:07 pm

Via Emily comes this totally incredible image of Jupiter:

Click it for the enormous 2300×3400 pixel image. Wow.

The New Horizons mission to Pluto used Jupiter for a gravity assist in February and took this image. It used a filter that lets in near-infrared light (specifically at 8900 Angstroms, just outside the range of the human eye) that is preferentially absorbed by methane gas. Jupiter has a lot of methane in its atmosphere, so this image is essentially a map of where the methane is: bright regions have only a little (the methane is thin and lets light out) and dark regions have a lot (more methane means more absorption of the light). Emily has more details at the link above, and you can learn stuff from it.

But it’s also OK just to sit back and marvel at the beauty of the solar system. And in case you’re curious: fully 5 Earths could fit across this image from the left hand part of Jupiter to the day/night dividing line on the right.

Comments (16)

Links to this Post

  1. Mixed Nuts » Blog Archive » New pictures of Jupiter | August 16, 2007
  1. UmTutSut (Sure, why not?)

    Rather off-topic :o ne of the Google ads that showed up next to the article on the BA blog when I pulled it up was:

    These Love Spells Work
    links to honest spell workers that get fast results
    love-spells-magic.com

    Rather incongruous on this blog, no? (:-}

    And on-topic: Is there any speculation about the source of the methane “spots” between the bands in the northern and southern hemisphere?

    Les (Friendly Airplane Asylum flack)

  2. Is there any speculation about the source of the methane “spots” between the bands in the northern and southern hemisphere?

    Cow farts?

    J/P=?

  3. Wow, that’s really round.

  4. Steve Ziolkowski

    It has to be fake. Where are the stars?

    (Just kidding…)

  5. There is so musch to love about that picture.

    Though every once in a while when I’m looking at pictures of Jupiter, I get the feeling that somebody was a little heavy-handed with the Photoshop “clone” tool whith the whorls while moving horizontally along the latitude bands, or with the white spots vertically in the mid-Southern latitudes!

  6. wright

    Ahh, Jupiter… Seeing photo images of any of the planets, especially our system’s magnificent gas giants, never fails to make me smile. Such beauty, such wonder.

  7. autumn

    Emily’s site is amazing in the wealth of information, as well as wealth of wonder, it produces. The Jovian system is just awesome.

  8. “And in case you’re curious: fully 5 Earths could fit across this image from the left hand part of Jupiter to the day/night dividing line on the right.”
    An arbitrary number of Earths could of course fit across the image, as long as you put them far enough away.

    Sorry, I’ve got this thing about wooly thinking.

  9. Christopher Ferro

    It took me a while to visualize this right. Normally, in image analysis brighter values = more and darker = less. Since it’s a methane absorption image, I guess it makes sense, but my brain keeps wanting to reverse it.

    CJSF

  10. Absolutely stunning! I like the fractal-like patterns around the equator.

  11. Darth Robo

    “An arbitrary number of Earths could of course fit across the image, as long as you put them far enough away.”

    But anything more than five Earths would be behind Jupiter and we couldn’t see ‘em.
    ;-)

    Very cool pic. Be better in colour, though, but I guess that would miss the point.
    :-D

  12. Gary Ansorge

    Yummy methane. Just what we need to run our dirty little civilization,,,into the ground. I wonder when Standard Oil will seek gov. funding to go and retrieve some???

    GAry 7

    From Stephen Webbs book(Where is Everybody) I note that Jupiter, in its particular location and mass, seems to be essential for the formation of rocky bodies with H2O that exist within the suns life zone. Maybe we should be worshiping it???(snicker)

  13. Tom

    Cool!
    Tip it 90 degrees and it makes pretty swell dual monitor wallpaper for my Ubuntu machine. :)

    Tom

  14. DCB

    I receive this blog usually via e-mail. Both Classmates.com and netflix put their ads right across the place where you click to go to the next post so if I read comments then I have to either make a comment or close out and come back in to go to the next post. This has been happening for a week or so and I’ve commented about it before. It is extremely frustrating. I hope it can be fixed……. D.

  15. Lurchgs

    darnit – all these years I’ve been spelling it messianic.

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