Fluid dynamics studied in Earth’s oceans show what drives Jupiter’s powerful cyclones.
The roiling storms of Jupiter are one of the most captivating sights in the Solar System, but to one team of researchers, they look strikingly similar to something here on Earth.
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“When I saw the richness of the turbulence around the Jovian cyclones with all the filaments and smaller eddies, it reminded me of the turbulence you see in the ocean around eddies.”
Hot spots on the images represent thinner clouds, which allow Juno to see further into Jupiter’s atmosphere. Cold spots indicate thicker clouds, which block the planet’s heat from the satellite.
Combined with analyses of Jupiter’s wind speed, the team’s research supports the hypothesis that moist convection drives energy from small to large scales on Jupiter.
As hotter, less dense air rises, it causes turbulence in Jupiter’s clouds. When enough of this small-scale turbulence occurs, it stirs the atmosphere enough to generate large-scale cyclones.