The Mysterious Color Patterns on Jupiter are Finally Explained

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The unusual swirls of colors on Jupiter have long been a subject of our curiosity and the scientists have been trying to solve their mystery for decades. However, with a new study with might finally have an explanation for the psychedelic appearance of the giant planet. A team of scientists announced that they uncovered the secrets of Jupiter’s swirls and understood what lies behind its colorful patches.

The magnetized gases influence Jupiter’s jet streams

In their study, published in The Astrophysical Journal on Thursday, two astrophysicists, Navid Constantinou and Jeffrey Parker, discuss a new theory that explains Jupiter’s extraordinary color patterns. According to them, the magnetized gases originating below the planet’s surface cut off and shape Jupiter’s jet streams, which are responsible for the flow of gases in the outer atmosphere of this massive object.

Jupiter’s jet streams extend 3000 kilometers deep

The fact that jet streams distribute the colorful patches of ammonia clouds around the upper part of Jupiter’s atmosphere has long been known to scientists. This movement of gases resembles the way jet streams behave on Earth. However, deep below the clouds, it changes dramatically. NASA’s Juno mission provided us with more insight into these processes, proving that these jet streams reach as deep as 3000 kilometers under the clouds’ surface before they end abruptly. This is what the two scientists were most interested in.

Magnetic fields shape Jupiter’s appearance

In order to find out what lies behind this, Constantinou and Parker designed a mathematical model in which they used our knowledge of Earth’s jet streams and weather. Due to the fact that there is an enormous gas pressure some 3000 kilometers below the surface, two main ingredients of Jupiter, hydrogen and helium, lose their electrons, which in turn creates strong electric and magnetic fields. This is why Jupiter’s jet streams end suddenly at 3000 kilometers deep under the clouds’ surface.

The two scientists now hope that their study is just the beginning of the road that will lead to uncovering all mysteries of Jupiter’s interior.


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