Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Fletcher L.N., Ortona G.S., Mousis O., Yanamandra-Fisher P., Parrish P.D., Irwin P.G.J. , Fisher B.M., Vanzi L., Fujiyoshi T., Fuse T., Simon-Miller A.A., Edkins E., Hayward T.L. and De Buizer J. (2010)

Thermal structure and composition of jupiter’s great red spot from high-resolution thermal imaging

Revista : Icarus
Volumen : 208
Número : 1
Páginas : 306 - 328
Tipo de publicación : ISI


Thermal-IR imaging from space-borne and ground-based observatories was used to investigate the temperature, composition and aerosol structure of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot (GRS) and its temporal variability between 1995 and 2008. An elliptical warm core, extending over 8° of longitude and 3° of latitude, was observed within the cold anticyclonic vortex at 21°S. The warm airmass is co-located with the deepest red coloration of the GRS interior. The maximum contrast between the core and the coldest regions of the GRS was 3.0–3.5 K in the north–south direction at 400 mbar atmospheric pressure, although the warmer temperatures are present throughout the 150–500 mbar range. The resulting thermal gradients cause counter-rotating flow in the GRS center to decay with altitude into the lower stratosphere. The elliptical warm airmass was too small to be observed in IRTF imaging prior to 2006, but was present throughout the 2006–2008 period in VLT, Subaru and Gemini imaging. Spatially-resolved maps of mid-IR tropospheric aerosol opacity revealed a well-defined lane of depleted aerosols around the GRS periphery, and a correlation with visibly-dark jovian clouds and bright 4.8-μm emission. Ammonia showed a similar but broader ring of depletion encircling the GRS. This narrow lane of subsidence keeps red aerosols physically separate from white aerosols external to the GRS. The visibility of the 4.8-μm bright periphery varies with the mid-IR aerosol opacity of the upper troposphere. Compositional maps of ammonia, phosphine and para-H2 within the GRS interior all exhibit north–south asymmetries, with evidence for higher concentrations north of the warm central core and the strongest depletions in a symmetric arc near the southern periphery. Small-scale enhancements in temperature, NH3 and aerosol opacity associated with localized convection are observed within the generally-warm and aerosol-free South Equatorial Belt (SEB) northwest of the GRS. The extent of 4.8-μm emission from the SEB varied as a part of the 2007 ‘global upheaval,’ though changes during this period were restricted to pressures greater than 500 mbar. Finally, a region of enhanced temperatures extended southwest of the GRS during the survey, restricted to the 100–400 mbar range and with no counterpart in visible imaging or compositional mapping. The warm airmass was perturbed by frequent encounters with the cold airmass of Oval BA, but no internal thermal or compositional effects were noted in either vortex during the close encounters.