To better understand what this means, we need to understand Jupiter better. Jupiter is a planet, but using this word to describe it might impair our understanding since Jupiter isn’t an ordinary planet.
They call it a gas giant because that’s what it is. It’s nothing like Earth, it is mostly made of hydrogen, and a quarter of its mass is made of helium. It doesn’t have a defined solid surface, and even its core is only presumably rocky.
Jupiter’s stormy atmosphere mingles with the liquid interior of the planet, and it doesn’t have a lower boundary. Jupiter is like a Rubik sphere. Its atmosphere is divided into bands that don’t move at once. It’s like invisible magic hands make the bands move asynchronous, while the atmosphere stays together.
The clouds of Jupiter aren’t ordinary clouds either. They are more like 50 miles tall smokestacks, and they are spread on the entire planet. They emit thermal radiation from the interior of the planet that can be captured by the Gemini Observatory.
One of the most interesting things about Jupiter is the Great Red Spot. In this high-pressure region, the winds spin anti-clockwise, creating the most massive persistent anticyclonic storm in our galaxy. The “spot” is more prominent than Earth in size.
New impressive images of Jupiter’s stormy atmosphere
New images created with the help of three astronomical instruments reveal some secrets about the harshness of Jupiter’s storms. The combined technology of Gemini Observatory and Hubble Space Telescope shows an image of Jupiter that looks like a Halloween pumpkin.
It’s the thickness of the clouds that give that impression. “It’s kind of like a jack-o-lantern. You see bright infrared light coming from cloud-free areas. Still, where there are clouds, it’s really dark in the infrared.” said astronomer Michael Wong of the University of California, Berkeley, in the new paper.
The third astronomic instrument is Juno, NASA’s Jupiter orbiter. It observed intense lightning storms that occur mostly at the Jovian poles. Not even lightning storms are like Earth’s. Lightning storms here are mostly equatorial. It has something to do with the Sun’s way of warming Jupiter, which is different from the way it warms Earth, with Jupiter being much further away from the Sun.
The new images obtained from the three instruments reveal that the strikes of lighting are mostly generated where the clouds are stretched and folded by the winds of Jupiter and form moist towers over frozen and liquid water clouds. The towers act like convectors that release Jovian internal energy. It’s wild. It doesn’t happen everywhere, but something about these cyclones seems to facilitate convection,” said Wong.