Experts use exoplanet hunter to study Jupiter’s winds •

In an progressive examine, researchers have efficiently used an instrument designed to search out exoplanets for exploring Jupiter’s winds, marking the primary time such a device has been utilized inside our Photo voltaic System. 

The analysis was led by a group from the Institute of Astrophysics and House Sciences (IA) on the College of Lisbon, Portugal, in collaboration with the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

Doppler velocimetry 

The examine utilized the ESPRESSO spectrograph, mounted on the VLT telescope at ESO, to measure wind speeds on Jupiter. This technique, often called Doppler velocimetry, analyzes the reflection of daylight by clouds in a planet’s environment. 

Adjustments within the wavelength of this mirrored mild correspond to the clouds’ motion relative to the Earth-based telescope, revealing the wind pace on the noticed location.

Initially developed by the Planetary Programs analysis group of IA to check Venus’s environment, this technique’s utility with ESPRESSO on Jupiter has been extremely profitable. 

Focus of the analysis 

Throughout 5 hours of remark in July 2019, the group centered on Jupiter’s equatorial zone and its north and south equatorial belts. 

“Jupiter’s environment, on the stage of the clouds seen from Earth, comprises ammonia, ammonium hydrosulfide, and water, forming distinct pink and white bands,” defined lead writer Pedro Machado, an astrophysicist at IA.

Utilizing ESPRESSO, the researchers measured Jupiter’s wind speeds starting from 60 to 428 km/h, with an accuracy of lower than 36 km/h. 

Examine challenges

The examine confronted challenges, together with navigation over Jupiter’s disk as a result of VLT telescope’s excessive decision.

“One of many difficulties centered on ‘navigation’ over Jupiter’s disk, that’s, understanding precisely which level on the planet’s disk we had been pointing to,” Machado added.

Steady monitoring 

To verify the effectiveness of this technique, the group in contrast their findings with historic wind measurements, primarily obtained by space-based devices. The consistency between the 2 units of knowledge confirms the viability of utilizing Doppler velocimetry for monitoring Jupiter’s winds from Earth.

This steady monitoring might be essential in creating a dependable international circulation mannequin of Jupiter’s environment, accounting for wind variations by latitude and understanding atmospheric phenomena like Jupiter’s storms. 

Future analysis

The group plans to increase their observations with ESPRESSO to cowl extra of Jupiter’s disk and its complete rotation interval of virtually 10 hours. Additionally they purpose to measure winds at totally different altitudes to check vertical air layer transport.

Wanting forward, the researchers hope to use this method to different gaseous planets, with Saturn as the subsequent goal. 

The success of those observations with ESPRESSO is especially important as ESO designs ANDES for the upcoming Extraordinarily Giant Telescope (ELT) and in anticipation of the European House Company’s JUICE mission devoted to Jupiter.

The examine is printed within the journal Universe,

Picture Credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS. Picture processing by Thomas Thomopoulos CC BY

Like what you learn? Subscribe to our publication for participating articles, unique content material, and the most recent updates.


Test us out on EarthSnap, a free app delivered to you by Eric Ralls and


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *