Photometry and polarimetry of Jupiter at large phase angles. I. Analysis of imaging data of a prominent belt and a zone from pioneer 10

M. G. Tomasko, R. A. West, N. D. Castillo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


Limb-darkening curves are derived from Pioneer 10 imaging data for Jupiter's STrZ (-18 to -21° latitude) and SEBn (-5 to -8° latitude) in red and blue light at phase angles of 12, 23, 34, 109, 120, 127, and 150°. Inhomogeneous scattering models are computed and compared with the data to constrain the vertical structure and the single-scattering phase functions of the belt and the zone in each color. The very high brightness observed at a 150° phase angle seems to require the presence of at lleast a thin layer of reasonably bright and strongly forward-scattering haze particles at pressure levelsof about 100 mbar or less above both belts and zones. Marginally successful models have been constructed in which a moderate optical thickness (τ ≥ 0.5) of haze particles was uniformly distributed in the upper 25 km-amagats of H2. Excellent fits to the data were obtained with models having a thin (optical depths of a few tenths) haze conentraated above most of the gas. Following recent spectrospcopicanalyses, we have placed the main "cloud" layer or layers beneath about 25 km-amagats of H2, although successful fits to our continuum data probably could be achieved also if the clouds were permitted to extend all the way up to the thin haze layer. Similarly, below the haze level our data cannot distinguish between models having two clouds separated by a clear space as suggested by R. E. Danielson and M. G. Tomasko and models with a single extensive diffuse cloud having an H2 abundance of a few kilometer-amagats per scattering mean free path as described by W. D. Cochran. In either case, the relative brightness of the planet at each phase angle primarily serves to constrain the single-scattering phase functions of the Jovian clouds at the corresponding scattering angles. The clouds in these models are characterized by single-scattering phase functions having strong forward peaks and modest backward-scattering peaks, indicating cloud particles with dimensions larger than about 0.6 μm. In our models, a lower single-scattering albedo of the cloud particles in the belt relative to the zone accounts for the contrast between these regions. If an increased abundance of absorbing dust above uniformly bright clouds is used to explain the contrast between belts and zones at visible wavelengths, the limb darkening is steeper than that observed for the SEBn in blue light at small phase angles. The phase integral for the planet calculated for either the belt or the zone model in either color lies in the range 1.2 to 1.3. If a value of 1.25 is used with D.J. Taylor's bolometric geometric albedo of 0.28, the planet emits 2.25 or 1.7 times the energy it absorbs from the Sun if it effective temperature is 134 or 125°K, respectively-roughly as expected from current theories of the cooling of Jupiter's interior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)558-592
Number of pages35
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1978

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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