NASA’s Juno spacecraft has provided a plethora of evidence to suggest that Jupiter is indeed thicc. But what lies beneath the planet’s moody clouds and marbled bands of wonder, particularly at the planet’s poles? Despite a multitude of new research, scientists are as mystified as ever.
Four papers published Wednesday in Nature provide unprecedented insight into the gas giant’s inner workings. Perhaps most intriguing is a new study about Jupiter’s polar regions, which apparently harbor cyclones. This makes sense because it’s Jupiter and everything there is perfect and beautiful and completely ridiculous.
“Jovian polar regions are not visible from Earth owing to Jupiter’s low axial tilt, and were poorly characterized by previous missions because the trajectories of these missions did not venture far from Jupiter’s equatorial plane,” the researchers write. “Here we report that visible and infrared images obtained from above each pole by the Juno spacecraft during its first five orbits reveal persistent polygonal patterns of large cyclones.”
In true Jovian fashion, these cyclones produce some breathtaking and bizarre shapes that would make Van Gogh green with envy. I mean really, just look at this Juno pic of Jupiter’s South Pole:
Researchers observed images from the first five of Juno’s six Jovian flybys. In the north pole, the team found eight circumpolar cyclones rotating around another cyclone. The south pole also harbors a large cyclone in the middle, which is encircled by five others.
The group attributes the movement of these cyclones to the Coriolis effect, which describes how things like storms or air currents appear to move in a certain direction as the result of a force, which, surprise, is called the Coriolis force. This is caused by the way a planet rotates on its axis.
As is the case with most things on Ol’ Jupey, there’s still a lot to learn about these storms.
“The manner in which the cyclones persist without merging and the process by which they evolve to their current configuration are unknown,” the researchers write. Classic Jupiter.