The powerful Hubble Space Telescope has spotted a never-before-seen feature in Jupiter’s atmosphere: an abrupt brightening near the planet’s equator. Produced by the iiInteraction of Jupiter’s ambiance and magnetic field, the mysterious feature was identified by researchers using images taken in ultraviolet light by Hubble.
The brightening is located in the planet’s southern equatorial region and is a dynamic feature in Jupiter’s outermost atmosphere. It is about 30 to 45 miles (50 to 70 kilometers) thick and extends to an altitude of at least 373 miles (600 km).
Researchers have likened the brightening to “gigantic luminous arcs” that can appear during thunderstorms on Earth. The team is currently awaiting additional Hubble data to help better understand the dynamics of the feature and its behavior over time.