Why does Jupiter modify its stripes? Scientists could ultimately know

When you image Jupiter, you in all probability see a planet with orange and reddish bands and the renowned Terrific Red Spot staring at you like a giant eye. 

But did you know these renowned bands are ever-altering in size, colour and place? Each and every 4 to 5 years, Jupiter adjustments its stripes, and ever due to the fact Galileo Galilei observed them in the 17th century, scientists have wondered why.

What we do know is that every single band, consisting of clouds of ammonia and water in a hydrogen and helium atmosphere, corresponds to robust winds blowing east or west. Scientists have also linked the bands, which attain additional than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere, to adjustments in infrared variations inside the planet. But a group of researchers has just found one more critical clue, and it all comes down to Jupiter’s magnetic field.

Connected: Jupiter, the solar system’s biggest planet (images)

Employing information from NASA’s Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft, the group correlated the variations in the gas giant’s bands to adjustments in its magnetic field. 

“It is attainable to get wavelike motions in a planetary magnetic field, which are referred to as torsional oscillations. The thrilling factor is that, when we calculated the periods of these torsional oscillations, they corresponded to the periods that you see in the infrared radiation on Jupiter,” study co-author Chris Jones, a professor in the College of Maths at the University of Leeds in England, mentioned in a statement.

As it goes in the science globe, this discovery produces even additional mysteries. 

“There stay uncertainties and concerns, especially how specifically the torsional oscillation produces the observed infrared variation, which most likely reflects the complicated dynamics and cloud/aerosol reactions. These need to have additional investigation,” study lead author Kumiko Hori, formerly of the University of Leeds and at present of Kobe University in Japan, mentioned in the similar statement. 

“Nonetheless, I hope our paper could also open a window to probe the hidden deep interior of Jupiter, just like seismology does for the Earth and helioseismology does for the sun,” Hori mentioned.

The team’s investigation was published on May well 18 in the journal Nature Astronomy.

Stick to Stefanie Waldek on Twitter @StefanieWaldek. Stick to us @Spacedotcom, or on Facebook and Instagram.

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