Volume 586, February 2016
|Number of page(s)||9|
|Section||Planets and planetary systems|
|Published online||11 February 2016|
A large active wave trapped in Jupiter’s equator
Departamento de Ingeniería de Sistemas y AutomáticaUniversidad del País
EUITI, Paseo Rafael Moreno “Pitxitxi”
2 Unidad Asociada Grupo Ciencias Planetarias UPV/EHU-IAA(CSIC), 48013 Bilbao, Spain
3 Departamento Física Aplicada I, Universidad del País Vasco UPV/EHU, ETS Ingeniería, Alameda Urquijo s/n, 48013 Bilbao, Spain
4 Fundació Observatori Esteve Duran, Montseny 46, 08553 Seva, Spain
Received: 27 March 2015
Accepted: 9 December 2015
Context. A peculiar atmospheric feature was observed in the equatorial zone (EZ) of Jupiter between September and December 2012 in ground-based and Hubble Space Telescope (HST) images. This feature consisted of two low albedo Y-shaped cloud structures (Y1 and Y2) oriented along the equator and centred on it (latitude 0.5°−1°N).
Aims. We wanted to characterize these features, and also tried to find out their properties and understand their nature.
Methods. We tracked these features to obtain their velocity and analyse their cloud morphology and the interaction with their surroundings. We present numerical simulations of the phenomenon based on one- and two-layer shallow water models under a Gaussian pulse excitation.
Results. Each Y feature had a characteristic zonal length of ~15° (18 000 km) and a meridional width (distance between the north-south extremes of the Y) of 5° (6000 km), and moved eastward with a speed of around 20−40 m s-1 relative to Jupiter’s mean flow. Their lifetime was 90 and 60 days for Y1 and Y2, respectively. In November, both Y1 and Y2 exhibited outbursts of rapidly evolving bright spots emerging from the Y vertex. The Y features were not visible at wavelengths of 255 or 890 nm, which suggests that they were vertically shallow and placed in altitude between the upper equatorial hazes and the main cloud deck. Numerical simulations of the dynamics of the Jovian equatorial region generate Kelvin and Rossby waves, which are similar to those in the Matsuno-Gill model for Earth’s equatorial dynamics, and reproduce the observed cloud morphology and the main properties the main properties of the Y features.
Key words: planets and satellites: atmospheres / planets and satellites: gaseous planets
International Outer Planet Watch (IOPW) Team, URL: http://www.pvol.ehu.es/
© ESO, 2016
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