image 15-November-2018 15:19:46

Distribution of water in Jupiter's stratosphere

Date: 23 April 2013
Satellite: Herschel
Depicts: Distribution map of water in Jupiter's stratosphere
Copyright: Water map: ESA/Herschel/T. CavaliƩ et al.; Jupiter image: NASA/ESA/Reta Beebe (New Mexico State University)

This map shows the distribution of water in the stratosphere of Jupiter as measured with ESA's Herschel space observatory. White and cyan indicate highest concentration of water, and blue indicates lesser amounts. The map has been superimposed over an image of Jupiter taken at visible wavelengths with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope.

The distribution of water clearly shows an asymmetric distribution across the planet's disc: water is more abundant in the southern hemisphere. Based on this and other clues collected with Herschel, astronomers have established that at least 95 per cent of the water currently present in Jupiter's stratosphere has been supplied by comet Shoemaker-Levy 9, which famously impacted the planet at intermediate southern latitudes in 1994.

The map is based on spectrometric data collected with the PACS instrument on board Herschel around 66.4 microns, a wavelength that corresponds to one of water's many spectral signatures.

Last Update: 18 September 2017

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