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The big storms at Jupiter’s poles are coherent and stable

Storms on Jupiter
Click for full image.

After four years of observations by Juno in orbit around Jupiter, scientists studying the storms at the gas giant’s poles have found that those storms are stable, long-lasting features. From the abstract of their paper:

These data have shown cyclones organized in snowflake-like structures. The Jupiter’s polar cyclones are long-lasting features, which did not disappear or merge during four years of observations.

The image to the right, posted by me earlier this week, shows several of these storms, or vortices, at Jupiter’s north pole. Previous work had documented the overall pattern, as described in the paper:

The observed vortices display geometrical symmetries around both poles: circumpolar cyclones (CPCs), organized in a regular pattern, surround a central one. At the north pole, eight circumpolar vortices form an octagonal structure, while at the south pole, five circumpolar vortices are arranged in a pentagonal pattern; both central polar vortices show some degree of displacements to the geometrical pole, about 0.5° for the Northern Polar Cyclone (NPC) and 1°-2° for the Southern Polar Cyclone (SPC).

While this research has found little change in these storms over four years, it is unknown what their long term evolution will be for an entire Jupiter year, twelve Earth years long.

Conscious Choice cover

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Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
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5 comments

  • ” . . . it is unknown what their long term evolution will be for an entire Jupiter year, twelve Earth years long.”

    A tropical cyclone on Earth lasting four months would still be impressive.

    Curious if on atmospheric bodies above a certain size, there are relatively stable atmospheric ‘Lagrange Points’? Places where atmospheric disturbances (non-linear flow) would be stable?

  • Edward

    Blair Ivey asked: “Curious if on atmospheric bodies above a certain size, there are relatively stable atmospheric ‘Lagrange Points’? Places where atmospheric disturbances (non-linear flow) would be stable?

    Do Earth’s jet-streams count?

  • sippin_bourbon

    “Curious if on atmospheric bodies above a certain size, there are relatively stable atmospheric ‘Lagrange Points’? Places where atmospheric disturbances (non-linear flow) would be stable?”

    Well you already have the very distinct bands made of dark zones and light belts. The interaction of which has produced the clearest and longest known storm in the Solar System, the Great Red Spot. The small axial tilt (just over 3 degrees) and speed of rotation (less than 10 hours) means that the bands are persistent, and there are virtually no “seasons” as we have them on Earth.

  • Edward asked: “Do Earth’s jet-streams count?”

    Inclination is to say ‘No’. The jet streams vary in location, sometimes greatly. On the other hand, variance is a function of the set size. Smaller environment; small changes can have large effects. And my understanding is that the jet streams are more-or-less linear flows.

    I was considering a situation where fluid disturbances (hurricanes), congregate in certain parts of a large atmospheric body due to eddies and flows in the environment; perhaps low-pressure areas for disturbances to gather. The tie-in was that random bodies in the Solar System find semi-stable orbits at certain points of planetary orbits.

    Perhaps nothing. But a little fun to think about.

  • Edward

    Blair Ivey,
    You replied: “Inclination is to say ‘No’.

    Fair enough. Neptune and Uranus don’t seem to have these types of storms, so it seems that the size you are looking for is somewhere between Uranus (slightly larger than Neptune) and Saturn. Since our weather and climate models still need some tweaking, we may not get that answer for a while, but it looks like there may be a size that meets your query.

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