First ALMA Millimeter-wavelength Maps of Jupiter, with a Multiwavelength Study of Convection

Imke De Pater, R. J. Sault, Chris Moeckel, Arielle Moullet, Michael H. Wong, Charles Goullaud, David Deboer, Bryan J. Butler, Gordon Bjoraker, More Authors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)
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We obtained the first maps of Jupiter at 1-3 mm wavelength with the Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) on 2017 January 3-5, just days after an energetic eruption at 16.5S jovigraphic latitude had been reported by the amateur community, and about two to three months after the detection of similarly energetic eruptions in the northern hemisphere, at 22.2-23.0N. Our observations, probing below the ammonia cloud deck, show that the erupting plumes in the South Equatorial Belt bring up ammonia gas from the deep atmosphere. While models of plume eruptions that are triggered at the water condensation level explain data taken at uv-visible and mid-infrared wavelengths, our ALMA observations provide a crucial, hitherto missing, link in the moist convection theory by showing that ammonia gas from the deep atmosphere is indeed brought up in these plumes. Contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope data show that the plumes reach altitudes as high as the tropopause. We suggest that the plumes at 22.2-23.0N also rise up well above the ammonia cloud deck and that descending air may dry the neighboring belts even more than in quiescent times, which would explain our observations in the north.

Original languageEnglish
Article number139
Number of pages17
JournalAstronomical Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • methods: observational
  • planets and satellites: atmospheres
  • radiative transfer
  • radio continuum: planetary systems
  • techniques: interferometric


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