Study sheds light on Jupiter’s jet streams with new theory

Shane McGlaun - Aug 10, 2018
Study sheds light on Jupiter’s jet streams with new theory

Jupiter is a gas giant and the largest planet in our solar system. Much of what goes on under the atmosphere of the planet is unknown because we can’t see under the brightly colored bands on the surface of the planet. Jupiter has a gaseous makeup mostly helium and hydrogen with several strong jet streams that flow west to east in the atmosphere.

Those jet streams are said to be similar to those found on Earth. On Jupiter, the jet streams cart clouds of ammonia around the planet to form the colored bands of white, red, orange, brown, and yellow that we can see in images of the planet. Little is known about what goes on under those colored bands, but a new study has shed some light on that topic.

Dr. Navid Constantinou said that how deep the jet streams on Jupiter go into the atmosphere has been long debated. Juno has indicated that the jet streams could reach as deep as 3,000 km below the clouds on the surface of the planet. The team thinks that their new theory explains why the jet streams go so deep into the atmosphere, but no deeper.

The team says since the gas in the interior of Jupiter is magnetized and with no land surface, there is nothing below the atmosphere of Jupiter to obstruct the path of the Jetstream. The team believes that the jet streams are suppressed by the strong magnetic field.

The team used mathematical calculations to determine instability that leads to jet streams when magnetic fields are present. This theory is believed to explain why the jet streams on Jupiter go as deep as they go but no deeper.

SOURCE: Australian National University

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