GAS GIANT PLANETS: Peering through Jupiter's clouds with radio spectral imaging

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Abstract

Radio wavelengths can probe altitudes in Jupiter's atmosphere below its visible cloud layers. We used the Very Large Array to map this unexplored region down to ˜8 bar, ˜100 kilometers below the visible clouds. Our maps reveal a dynamically active planet at pressures less than 2 to 3 bar. A radio-hot belt exists, consisting of relatively transparent regions (a low ammonia concentration, NH3 being the dominant source of opacity) probing depths to over ˜8 bar; these regions probably coincide with 5-micrometer hot spots. Just to the south we distinguish an equatorial wave, bringing up ammonia gas from Jupiter's deep atmosphere. This wave has been theorized to produce the 5-micrometer hot spots; we observed the predicted radio counterpart of such hot spots.

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