SYDNEY – An international team of scientists linked the colors of Jupiter’s bands with the jet streams flowing in the atmosphere of the Solar System’s largest planet, an Australian academic source revealed on Friday.
“We know a lot about the jet streams in Earth’s atmosphere and the key role they play in the weather and climate, but we still have a lot to learn about Jupiter’s atmosphere,” said Navid Constantinou from the research school of the Australian National University, and one of the researchers of the study.
A gaseous planet, Jupiter has no solid surface, unlike Earth.
According to research on the interaction between atmospheres and magnetic fields, published in peer-reviewed scientific magazine Astrophysical Journal, there are several powerful jet streams that circulate from west to east in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Until recently, not much has been known about what happens underneath Jupiter’s clouds.
“Scientists have long debated how deep the jet streams reach beneath the surfaces of Jupiter and other gas giants, and why they do not appear in the sun’s interior,” Constantinou said.
Evidence from NASA’s spacecraft Juno indicates the jet streams reach 3,000 kilometers below Jupiter’s clouds.
Co-researcher Jeffrey Parker from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the United States said the theory shows that jet streams are suppressed by a magnetic field.
“The gas in the interior of Jupiter is magnetized, so we think our new theory explains why the jet streams go as deep as they do under the gas giant’s surface but don’t go any deeper,” Parker said.
The polar and subtropical jet streams in Earth’s atmosphere influence the weather and climate by acting as “a barrier and making it harder for air on either side of them to exchange properties such as heat, moisture and carbon,” Parker added.
These jet streams on Earth are more “wavy and irregular,” but on Jupiter they are much straighter because there are no continents or mountains on that planet that obstruct their path.
“This makes the jet streams on Jupiter simpler. By studying Jupiter, not only do we unravel the mysteries in the interior of the gas giant, but we can also use Jupiter as a laboratory for studying how atmospheric flows work in general,” Parker said.