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Hurricanes on Jupiter are similar to swirling Earth's oceans - space and astronomy

Hurricanes on Jupiter are similar to swirling Earth’s oceans – space and astronomy

Powerful cyclones rocking Jupiter’s atmosphere are caused by the same physical phenomenon of convection that underlies the eddies in Earth’s oceans: this is illustrated by detailed infrared images collected by NASA’s Juno probe thanks to the Italian instrument Geram.

The study was published in Nature Physics by an international team that was also attended by researchers from the National Institute of Astrophysics (Inaf) and the Italian Space Agency (Asi).

Experts led by Lia Siegelman, an oceanographer at the University of California, San Diego, analyzed a series of infrared images obtained by Jerram of the region around Jupiter’s north pole, and in particular the group of polar eddies centered there. .

The images, of exceptional quality in terms of resolution and spatial coverage, made it possible to monitor the movement of clouds to calculate the speed and direction of the wind.

Next, the researchers interpreted the infrared images to estimate the thickness of the clouds: there are thin clouds in warmer regions, while cold regions show a dense cloud cover that protects Jupiter’s atmosphere.

These results provided evidence for the energy of the Jovian atmospheric system, demonstrating that rapidly rising atmospheric gas within the clouds is the energy source that triggers and sustains large polar and polar cyclones. Juno, which arrived around the Jupiter system in 2016, is the first mission to provide a complete and detailed view of the great polar cyclones in the planet’s atmosphere.

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The radius of these structures is about 2000 km: eight of them are located at the North Pole and five are above the South Pole. “We’re not yet sure how these polar vortices originated or how long they lasted, but now – confirms researcher at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Alessandro Mora, co-author of the study and scientific director of the Jerram Machine – we know that the phenomenon of moisture convection is what sustains them.”

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