World's most-powerful telescope discovers mysterious structures above Jupiter

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has pointed its powerful instruments at Jupiter and discovered a mysterious structure above the Great Red Spot.

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Researchers have used NASA and the European Space Agency's (ESA) James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) to discover previously unseen regions above an iconic spot on Jupiter.

Atmosphere around the Great Red Spot

Atmosphere around the Great Red Spot

Being the largest gas giant in the solar system, Jupiter is very easy to see in the night sky, but astronomers still struggle to observe the planet's upper atmosphere, which is where the JWST comes in. Using JWSTs sensitive infrared instruments researchers were able to peer into Jupiter's upper atmosphere above the iconic Great Red Spot in unprecedented detail, revealing structures that have been detailed in a study published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

According to the results, the team discovered above the Great Red Spot, a massive storm that is so large that it could completely consume Earth - ranking first in the biggest storms in the solar system - what the space agency describes as "a variety of intricate structures, including dark arcs and bright spots". The space agency writes in its blog post these are atmospheric waves that are similar in structure to waves crashing on a beach.

"One way in which you can change this structure is by gravity waves - similar to waves crashing on a beach, creating ripples in the sand," explained Henrik. "These waves are generated deep in the turbulent lower atmosphere, all around the Great Red Spot, and they can travel up in altitude, changing the structure and emissions of the upper atmosphere."

"The team explains that these atmospheric waves can be observed on Earth on occasion, however they are much weaker than those observed on Jupiter by Webb. They also hope to conduct follow-up Webb observations of these intricate wave patterns in the future to investigate how the patterns move within the planet's upper atmosphere and to develop our understanding of the energy budget of this region and how the features change over time," writes the ESA

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Jak joined the TweakTown team in 2017 and has since reviewed 100s of new tech products and kept us informed daily on the latest science, space, and artificial intelligence news. Jak's love for science, space, and technology, and, more specifically, PC gaming, began at 10 years old. It was the day his dad showed him how to play Age of Empires on an old Compaq PC. Ever since that day, Jak fell in love with games and the progression of the technology industry in all its forms. Instead of typical FPS, Jak holds a very special spot in his heart for RTS games.

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