The Jupiter is largest gas giant. In our solar system, Jupiter is the fifth planet from the sun which is biggest planet to all others planets. The Jupiter is too big to fit 1300 earths in it. It composes the mass about one thousand mass of the sun and about two and half mass of entire solar system. Jupiter is the third natural brightest object in the night sky.
Properties of Jupiter
- Jupiter is largest gas giant in solar system.
- It was named after Roman god Jupiter.
- Equatorial radius of Jupiter is 71492 km.
- Mass of Jupiter is 1.8982 X 1027kg and density 1.326 kg/cm3.
- Distance from the sun is 778.5 million km.
- The orbital eccentricity around the sun is 0.048.
- Maximum distance of Jupiter from sun (Aphelion) is 816.62 million km and closest distance (Perihelion) is 740.52 million km.
- Axial inclination is 3.13 degree.
- Orbital inclination of Jupiter with earth’s orbital plane is 1.31 degree.
- The Jupiter completes one revolution around the sun in 11.86 years.
- Average orbital speed is 13.07km/s.
- One day on the Jupiter is about 10 hours.
- Jupiter’s atmosphere is mainly composed of hydrogen and helium like sun.
- Surface is visible in two types of stripes as lighter strips are zones and darker stripes are belts.
- The Jupiter has ring systems as like Saturn and Uranus.
- The Jupiter has 79 natural satellites or moons.
The Jupiter was formed about 4.5 billion years ago as rest of solar system bodies were formed. According to grand tack hypothesis theory, in early stage of solar system, super earth like planets were collided to Jupiter which cause the migration of Jupiter from inner solar system to outer solar system and this migration was allowed to form other planets in inner solar system.
The Jupiter has no solid surface. Jupiter is mainly made of liquid and gaseous material. The Jupiter may be composed of dense core and surrounded by liquid metallic hydrogen layer about 78% of its radius or may be not core present. According to Juno mission, Jupiter has very dense core mixed in mantle. Similar to the Sun, Jupiter is also made of 88%-92% of hydrogen and 8%-12% of helium.
Orbit and Rotation
The Jupiter completes one revolution on its axis in 10 hours which is fastest than all other planets in our Solar System. Due to this high speed equatorial bulge is created so the equator diameter is bigger than on pole. Though it has high spin on its axis, it has very slow orbital speed around the sun. It takes 11.86 years to complete one revolution around the sun. The rotation around the sun is not circular but 0.048 eccentric so farthest distances from the sun is 816.62 million km and closest distance is 740.52 million km. The orbital plane of Jupiter is inclined to orbital plane of the earth by 1.31 degree. Axial tilt is 3.13 degree so there is no possibility of season change. The Jupiter is not solid body, so rotation on equator is 5 times faster than rotation on poles.
The atmosphere of Jupiter is mainly composed of hydrogen with 88%-92% and helium with 8 %-12 % and with small amount of other gases like methane, ammonia, hydrogen sulphide and water. Carbon, ethane, hydrogen sulphide, neon, oxygen, phosphine and sulphur are also traced in Jupiter’s atmosphere. This atmosphere is largest planetary atmosphere in entire solar system. Powerful storms with lightning strikes are occurred on Jupiter due to moist convection of water evaporation and condensation.
The Jupiter’s atmosphere is divided into four layers from bottom to top which are troposphere, stratosphere, thermosphere and exosphere. The Jupiter has no any solid surface so, troposphere is merged into its fluid interior. Here no sharp boundary between liquid and gas layer and also temperature and pressure are above the critical point of hydrogen and helium. In this stage, hydrogen is in the form of supercritical fluid form with 12 bar pressure. Upper clouds in troposphere are made of ammonia ice and below it ammonium hydrosulfide or ammonium sulphide clouds are exist. The troposphere of Jupiter is exposed to 50 km above the clouds with pressure about 1 bar and temperature about -163oC. Airglow, polar aurorae and x-ray emissions are occurred in thermosphere. Temperature in stratosphere is about -73o C and in thermosphere temperature is reached to 726o C.
Strips on surface
The outer surface of the Jupiter is visible as number of belts parallel to the equator where dark coloured are known as “Belts” while light coloured are known as “Zones”. This belt-zone structure is extended to poles from equator. The difference in colour is depends on opacity of clouds. The lighter colour of zone is due to denser clouds of ammonia ice with higher attitudes while darker colour of Belt is due to lower attitude and low dense clouds. “Jets” are the wind flow which bound the Jovian bands. The eastward (prograde) jets flow from zones to belts while westward (retrograde) jets flows from belts to zones.
The atmosphere of Jupiter is composed of number of circular rotating structures which are called “Vortices”. These are two types, one is cyclones which rotate in similar direction of rotation of planet while second is anticyclones which rotate in opposite direction.
Great Red Spot
Great red spot is anti cyclonic high pressure region at 22o south from the equator of Jupiter having life about 350 years. This spot is existed before 1665. The spot was seen at that time was differ than today in size. It rotates counter clockwise with speed of six earth days. It is 24000-40000 in east to west while 12000-14000 in north to south which is enough to fit 2 -3 planets like earth. It is continuously decreases in size and about 2040 it will be circular as per current rate. The great red spot is colder than other clouds presents on Jupiter’s atmosphere and reddish in colour.
The Jupiter’s magnetosphere is the largest and strongest in entire solar system which extends to million km towards the sun and up to Saturn’s orbit line to opposite side. It is fourteen times strongest that of earth’s magnetosphere.
Jupiter’s internal magnetic field is produced by electrical current of liquid metallic hydrogen in outer core. The gas torus produced by volcanic effect of Jupiter’s moon Io, also rotates around the planet by Jupiter’s magnetic field. Strong current in magnetosphere creates auroras in poles. The magnetic field around the Jupiter is generated by many ways like fluid circulation in internal core, electrical current in plasma surrounding Jupiter and current flowing in boundary of magnetosphere.
Rings of Jupiter
The rings of Jupiter or the Jovian ring system is the third ring system in solar system after Saturn and Uranus. These rings are mainly made of dust which has four main parts. A thick inner torus known as halo ring, Main ring and wide thick outer gossamer rings.
The halo ring is the inner most and vertically thickest ring of Jupiter. Its outer edge coincides with Main ring’s boundary with radius about 122500 km and inner edge at radius of 100000 km but some material is also present up to 92000km, so with of the halo ring is about 30000 km. The brightness of halo ring is relatively low compared to Main ring. The size of dust particles of this ring is less than 15 μm.
The main ring is the brightest part of ring system. Its outer edge is located at about 129000 km which touches to the orbit of satellite Adrastea while inner edge is at about 122500 km. The width of main ring is about 6500 km. The brightness of the ring is maximum at the center at 126000 km. The main ring is made of dust particles with 0.1-10 μm in size. The dust particle’s life in the ring is about 100 to 1000 years. The dust is continues filled up by collision of larger and high velocity particles coming from outside. The largest body has the size of 0.5 km.
Amalthea Gossamer Ring: The inner boundary of this ring is at 129000 km and outer is at 182000 km. Due to brightness of the main and halo ring, the inner edge is not clear defined. The thickness of ring is 2300 km at the orbit of amalthea and it decreases towards the Jupiter.
Thebe Gossamer Ring: The inner boundary of this ring is at 129000 km and outer is at 226000 km at the orbital path of thebe. Due to brightness of the main and halo ring, the inner edge is not clear defined. The shape of the ring is clear rectangle. The thickness of ring is 8400 km at the orbit of thebe and it decreases towards the Jupiter. The main source of dust particles in gossamer ring is Amalthea and Thebe moon.
Moons of Jupiter
The Jupiter has 79 natural satellites or moons. Among them only four biggest moon are visible from earth are called Galilean moon, they are Io, Europa, Ganymade and Callisto. These are the largest natural satellites in solar system. The moon were discovered by Galileo Galilei and Simon Marius in 1610.
There are two groups of moon of Jupiter.
Regular moons are two types.
Inner Moon (Amalthea group): Inner moon orbits very close to Jupiter which are Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea and Thebe. They also form the rings of Jupiter.
Galilean Moon: They are the largest natural satellites in entire solar system which are Io, Europa, Ganymadde and Callisto. These four moons composed about 99.99 % of mass which orbit around the Jupiter.
The irregular satellites are smaller objects which orbit the Jupiter. They are group of similar properties and composition and believed that they were formed by collision of asteroids to the Jupiter. They are named by its largest numbers of family as Themisto, Himala group, Capro, Valetudo, Ananke group, Carme group, Pasiphae group.
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Authored by BK Suthar.
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