Powerful storms erupted on Jupiter, confusing the beautiful white and brown belts of the planet.
Storms resembling the anvils of cumulonimbus thunderstorms on Earth blur the clean lines that separate the various atmospheric areas of Jupiter bands. Similar to the formation of anecdotic thunderstorms on Earth, towers of ammonia and water vapor rise through Jupiter's outer cloud layer before they expand and condense into white feathers that emerge from the cloud surface. On the way, they create whirlpools on the edges of different ribbons, disturbing them and mixing their brown and white tones into whirlpools.
"If these feathers are strong and continue to show convective events, they can interfere with one of these bands over time, although this can take several months," said Imke de Pater, an astronomer at the University of California at Berkeley Opinion. (Convection is a process in which warmer, less dense liquid rises through colder liquid.)
De Pater was senior author of a paper that was accepted for publication in the Astronomical Journal and observations of these disorders with the Atacama Large Millimeter / Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile and the Hubble Space Telescope.
Under normal circumstances, researchers said Ammoniakeis clouds form the thin upper layer of brown and white clouds called the Bands of the planet are visible, we are used to from space images. But this ammonia does not rise higher and does not penetrate much deeper into the planetary atmosphere of hydrogen and helium. It also makes it difficult to observe the innards of the planet and makes it difficult to figure out what causes these storms.
However, these are not the first examples in which astronomers have found disturbances in Jupiter's atmosphere bands. These events seem to occur periodically, the researchers wrote, citing examples from the 1990s – many of them were lightning strikes.
"We were really lucky with these data because they were taken only a few days after amateur astronomers" I found a bright cloud in the south equatorial belt, "said de Pater." With ALMA, we've seen the whole planet and seen this cloud, and as ALMA interrogates beneath the clouds, we could actually see what is going on under the clouds of ammonia. "
The researchers looked through the cloud cover to find this. The springs spring deep in the atmosphere of the gas giant Water pockets rise and reach a point 80 kilometers below the cloud cover, where the water condenses into droplets of liquid and releases heat, pushing the ammonia the rest of the way through the outer clouds, where it can form anvil-shaped white flags.
It is not clear today how much disruption these flags cause on the largest planet in our solar system but researchers will certainly keep an eye on it to see how it all works out.
Originally published on Live Science .