An intense narrow equatorial jet in Jupiter’s lower stratosphere observed by JWST
The atmosphere of Jupiter has east–west zonal jets that alternate as a function of latitude as tracked by cloud motions at tropospheric levels. Above and below the cold tropopause at ~100 mbar, the equatorial atmosphere is covered by hazes at levels where thermal infrared observations used to characterize the dynamics of the stratosphere lose part of their sensitivity. James Webb Space Telescope observations of Jupiter in July 2022 show these hazes in higher detail than ever before and reveal the presence of an intense (140 m s−1) equatorial jet at 100–200 mbar (70 m s−1 faster than the zonal winds at the cloud level) that is confined to ±3° of the equator and is located below stratospheric thermal oscillations that extend at least from 0.1 to 40 mbar and repeat in multiyear cycles. This suggests that the new jet is a deep part of Jupiter’s Equatorial Stratospheric Oscillation and may therefore vary in strength over time.
Author affiliationSchool of Physics & Astronomy, University of Leicester
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