Jupiters jets likely heated by internal heat, rather than suns radiation

January 24th, 2008 - 1:45 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of National Geographic
Washington, Jan 24 (ANI): A new study has found that Jupiters powerful weather jets may be fired up by internal heat than radiation from the sun.

According to a report in National Geographic News, a team of researchers from the Universidad del Pais Vasco in Spain, found that Jupiters jets, which are equivalent to Earths jet stream, seem to reach well beneath the visible cloud layer that absorbs most of the suns light.

This suggests that the jets are being maintained by heat and winds near the surface of the planet itself.

Jupiter’s jetswhich are far more numerous and consistent than Earth’s jet streamsdominate the circulation of the thick cloud layer that hides the interior.

According to the study authors, what powers the jets and how they form vertical structures in the atmosphere, however, are “major open questions.”

Scientists have proposed two basic models for the formation of the jets.

In the shallow scenario, the jets result from thunderstorms and other sun-driven events on the visible surface of the gas giant.

In the deep scenario, as proposed by the new study, Jupiter’s internal heat drives the jets.

Evidence in support of this theory was observed by scientists during major violent storms that hit Jupiter in March last year.

During the event, giant twin storms moved at speeds up to 370 miles (600 kilometers) an hour in Jupiter’s middle northern latitudes.

“We saw the rapidly growing storm go from about 250 miles (400 kilometers) to more than 1,245 miles (2,000 kilometers) in size in less than one day,” said Sanchez-Lavega, who led the study.

Bright plumes turned out to be storm systems triggered in Jupiter’s deep clouds. The systems moved up vigorously, injecting ammonia ice and water about 20 miles (30 kilometers) above the visible clouds that disturbed the jet.

Models of the 2007 event based on this data showed the jet stream extending deep in the atmosphere, more than 62 miles (100 kilometers) below the visible cloud tops, supporting the “deep” origin theory.

“All the evidence points to a deep extent for Jupiter’s jets and suggest that the internal heat power source plays a significant role in generating the jet,” said Sanchez-Lavega.

This research could also unlock weather secrets on Earth, on other gas giants such as Saturn and Neptune, and even on Jupiter-like extrasolar planets that are being discovered at accelerated rates.
“Jupiter is the prototype for not only the other three gas giants in the solar system, but also the extrasolar gas-giants that are being discovered at a rapid rate,” said Timothy Dowling, who directs the Comparative Planetology Lab at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. (ANI)

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