It’s a car! It’s a train! No, it’s Jupiter!

Yes, the bright light you see in the centre of this picture, shining below the Milky Way’s dark, pinkish belt, is in fact the king of the planets in the Solar System! Jupiter is flanked by two hills hosting ESO’s Very Large Telescope (left) and VISTA (right) in the Atacama Desert in Chile.

Jupiter is the largest planet in our Solar System and the third brightest object in the night sky, only outshone by the Moon and Venus. Naming it after the god of the sky and thunder is certainly fitting! Mainly made of hydrogen and helium, one of Jupiter’s most distinctive marks is the famous great red spot on its surface, the largest storm in the Solar System.

Jupiter has been observed by the 8.2-m telescopes of the VLT on more than one occasion. The VISIR instrument captured a stunning high resolution infrared image of Jupiter, key to understanding how energy and matter flow through its atmosphere. The CRIRES infrared spectrograph –– an instrument that breaks light into its constituent colours –– mapped an area in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere that is 200 ºC colder than its surroundings. Using MAD, a prototype instrument to correct atmospheric turbulence, the VLT obtained incredibly sharp images of the planet. Jupiter was also among the first test targets of MUSE, an instrument that can image astronomical objects at thousands of different colours simultaneously. Jupiter is the king, and all eyes are on him!


About the Image

Release date:15 November 2021, 06:00
Size:29926 x 7918 px

About the Object

Name:Jupiter, Paranal
Type:Unspecified : Sky Phenomenon : Night Sky
Unspecified : Technology : Observatory
Solar System : Planet
Solar System

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