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Infrared Characterization of Jupiter's Equatorial Disturbance Cycle

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posted on 01.02.2019, 10:26 by Arrate Antuñano, Leigh N. Fletcher, Glenn S. Orton, Henrik Melin, John H. Rogers, Joseph Harrington, Padraig T. Donnelly, Naomi Rowe-Gurney, James S. D. Blake
We use an infrared data set captured between 1984 and 2017 using several instruments and observatories to report five rare equatorial disturbances that completely altered the appearance of Jupiter's equatorial zone (EZ): the clearance of tropospheric clouds revealed a new 5‐μm‐bright band encircling the planet at the equator, accompanied by large 5‐μm‐bright filaments. Three events were observed in ground‐based images in 1973, 1979, and 1992. We report and characterize for the first time the entire evolution of two new episodes of this unusual EZ state that presented their maximum 5‐μm‐brightness in December 1999 and February 2007, coinciding with a brown coloration south of the equator and with large bluish filaments and white plumes in the northern EZ at visible wavelengths. We characterize their typical infrared‐bright lifetimes of 12–18 months, with possible periodicities of 6–8 or 13–14 years. We predict that a full‐scale equatorial disturbance could occur in 2019–2021.


This work is partially supported by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program, grant agreement 723890, at the University of Leicester, by a Royal Society Research Fellowship and by UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) grant ST/N000749/1. A portion of this work was performed by GSO at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. We are grateful to thank all those involved in the acquisition of these 5‐μm data over many years, including but not limited to Thomas Greathouse, Kevin Baines, Padma Yanamandra‐Fisher, Tom Momary, Jim Friedson, Jose Luis Ortiz, and John Spencer. We wish to thank the following amateur astronomers for their contributions to the visible‐light imaging: Christopher Go, Tiziano Olivetti, Isao Miyazaki, and Hans‐Jorg Mettig. This investigation is based on data acquired at (i) the Infrared Telescope Facility, operated by the University of Hawaii under cooperative agreement NNX‐08AE38A with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Science Mission Directorate, Planetary Astronomy Program, and (ii) the ESO Very Large Telescope Paranal UT3/Melipal Observatory (program IDs 098.C‐0681 and 099.C‐0612). We recognize the significant cultural role of Maunakea within the indigenous Hawaiian community, and we appreciate the opportunity to conduct our Jupiter observations from this revered site.



Geophysical Research Letters, 2018 , 45(20), pp. 10,987-10,995

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/Organisation/COLLEGE OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING/Department of Physics and Astronomy


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Geophysical Research Letters


American Geophysical Union (AGU), Wiley



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Data can be accessed from the following GitHub repository http://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1412629, which contains the cylindrical maps from 1999 to 2000 and 2006 to 2007 and the normalized brightness scans from ±7° latitude as a function of time.



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