The NASA Hubble Space Telescope has treated us with another gorgeous image. This time, it has shown us Jupiter in a totally different light. It’s a “different light,” both figuratively and literally: Jupiter doesn’t only look different than what we’re used to, but the shot was also taken using ultraviolet light.
NASA shared the image in honor of Jupiter reaching opposition, a time when the planet and the Sun are on opposite sides of the sky. Central to the image is the famous “Great Red Spot,” a recognizable large storm on Jupiter. But when taken in ultraviolet, this storm appears darker due to high-altitude haze particles absorbing the light. Nearby, the reddish polar hazes show less light absorption, possibly because of differences in particle size, composition, or altitude.
Hubble’s ultraviolet capability lets astronomers study light wavelengths that are beyond human vision. Ultraviolet light shows phenomena like young stars in local galaxies, the material between stars, and galaxy evolution.
So, this image is a false-color representation because we can’t see ultraviolet light. Colors from the visible spectrum were assigned to the ultraviolet images based on different filters: Blue for F225W, Green for F275W, and Red for F343N.
This splendid image is part of a Hubble study focused on Jupiter’s storm system. Researchers use the data to map deep water clouds and define 3D structures in the planet’s atmosphere. So, as always, the photo isn’t just here to make us go “wow,” but it has a scientific significance above all.