Jupiter (pronounced [ˈdʒuːpɨtɚ] ) is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is two and a half times as massive as all of the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter
is classified as a gas giant, along with Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. Together, these four planets are sometimes referred to as the Jovian planets, where Jovian is
the adjectival form of Jupiter.
The planet was known by astronomers of ancient times and was associated with the mythology and religious beliefs of many cultures. The Romans named the planet after the Roman god Jupiter. When viewed from Earth, Jupiter can reach an apparent magnitude of −2.8, making it the third brightest object in the night sky after the Moon and Venus. (However, at certain points in its orbit, Mars can briefly exceed Jupiter's brightness.)
The planet Jupiter is primarily composed of hydrogen with a small proportion of helium; it may also have a rocky core of heavier elements under high pressure. Because of its rapid rotation,
Jupiter's shape is that of an oblate spheroid (it possesses a slight but noticeable bulge around the equator). The outer atmosphere is visibly segregated
into several bands at different latitudes, resulting in turbulence and storms along their interacting boundaries. A prominent
result is the Great Red Spot, a giant storm that is known to have existed since at least the 17th century. Surrounding the planet
is a faint planetary ring system and a powerful magnetosphere. There are also at least 63 moons, including the four large moons called the Galilean moons that were first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Ganymede, the largest of these moons, has a diameter greater than that of the planet Mercury.
Jupiter has been explored on several occasions by robotic spacecraft, most notably during the early Pioneer and Voyager flyby missions and later by the Galileo orbiter. The latest probe to visit Jupiter was the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft in late February 2007. The probe used the gravity from Jupiter to increase its speed and adjust its trajectory toward Pluto, thereby saving
years of travel. Future targets for exploration include the possible ice-covered liquid ocean on the Jovian moon Europa.
Approximate size comparison of Earth and Jupiter, including the Great Red Spot
Jupiter is 2.5 times more massive than all the other planets in our Solar System combined — this is so massive that its barycenter with the Sun actually lies above the Sun's surface (1.068 solar radii from the Sun's center). Although this planet dwarfs the Earth (with a diameter 11 times as great) it
is considerably less dense. Jupiter's volume is equal to 1,317 Earths, yet is only 318 times as massive.
Theoretical models indicate that if Jupiter had much more mass than it does at present, the planet
would shrink. For small changes in mass, the radius would not change appreciably, and above about four Jupiter masses the interior would become so much more
compressed under the increased gravitation force that the planet's volume would actually decrease despite the increasing
amount of matter. As a result, Jupiter is thought to have about as large a diameter as a planet of its composition and evolutionary
history can achieve. The process of further shrinkage with increasing mass would continue until appreciable stellar ignition is achieved as in high-mass brown dwarfs around 50 Jupiter masses. This has led some astronomers to term it a "failed star", although it is unclear whether or not the processes involved
in the formation of planets like Jupiter are similar to the processes involved in the formation of multiple star systems.
Although Jupiter would need to be about 75 times as massive to fuse hydrogen and become a star, the smallest red dwarf is only about 30 percent larger in radius than Jupiter. In spite of this, Jupiter still radiates more heat than it receives from the Sun. The amount of heat produced inside
the planet is nearly equal to the total solar radiation it receives. This additional heat radiation is generated by the Kelvin-Helmholtz mechanism through adiabatic contraction. This process results in the planet shrinking by about 2 cm each year. When it was first formed, Jupiter was much hotter and was about twice its current diameter.
This cut-away illustrates a model of the interior of Jupiter, with a rocky core overlaid by a deep
layer of metallic hydrogen. NASA background image
Jupiter is thought to consist of a dense core with a mixture of elements, a surrounding layer of liquid metallic hydrogen with some helium, and an outer layer predominantly of molecular hydrogen. Beyond this basic outline, there is still considerable uncertainty. The core is often described as rocky, but its detailed composition is unknown, as are the properties of materials at the temperatures and
pressures of those depths (see below). The existence of the core is suggested by gravitational measurements indicating a mass of from 12 to 45 times the Earth's mass or roughly 3%-15% of the total mass of Jupiter. The presence of the core is also suggested by models of planetary formation involving initial formation of a rocky
or icy core that is massive enough to collect its bulk of hydrogen and helium from the protosolar nebula. The core may in fact be absent, as gravitational measurements aren't precise enough to rule that possibility
out entirely. Assuming it does exist, it may also be shrinking, as convection currents of hot liquid metallic hydrogen mix
with the molten core and carry its contents to higher levels in the planetary interior.
The core region is surrounded by dense metallic hydrogen, which extends outward to about 78 percent of the radius of the planet. Rain-like droplets of helium and neon precipitate downward through this layer, depleting the abundance of these elements
in the upper atmosphere.
Above the layer of metallic hydrogen lies a transparent interior atmosphere of liquid hydrogen and gaseous hydrogen, with the gaseous portion extending downward from the cloud layer to a depth of about 1,000 km. Instead of a clear boundary or surface between these different phases of hydrogen, there is probably a smooth gradation
from gas to liquid as one descends. This smooth transition happens whenever the temperature is above the critical temperature, which for hydrogen is only 33 K (see hydrogen).
The temperature and pressure inside Jupiter increase steadily toward the core. At the phase transition region where liquid hydrogen (heated beyond its critical point) becomes metallic, it is believed the
temperature is 10,000 K and the pressure is 200 GPa. The temperature at the core boundary is estimated to be 36,000 K and the interior pressure is roughly
- See also: Cloud pattern on Jupiter
This looping animation shows the movement of Jupiter's counter-rotating cloud bands. In this image,
the planet's exterior is mapped onto a cylindrical projection
Jupiter is perpetually covered with clouds composed of ammonia crystals and possibly ammonium hydrosulfide. The clouds are located in the tropopause and are arranged into bands of different latitudes, known as tropical regions. These are sub-divided into lighter-hued zones and darker belts.
The interactions of these conflicting circulation patterns cause storms and turbulence. Wind speeds of 100 m/s (360 km/h) are common in zonal jets. The zones have been observed to vary in width, color and intensity from year to year, but they have remained sufficiently
stable for astronomers to give them identifying designations.
The cloud layer is only about 50 km deep, and consists of at least two decks of clouds: a thick
lower deck and a thin clearer region. There may also be a thin layer of water clouds underlying the ammonia layer, as evidenced
by flashes of lightning detected in the atmosphere of Jupiter. (Water is a polar molecule that can carry a charge, so it is capable of creating the charge separation needed to produce lightning.) These electrical discharges can be up to a thousand times as powerful as lightning on the Earth. The water clouds can form thunderstorms driven by the heat rising from the interior.
The orange and brown coloration in the clouds of Jupiter are caused by upwelling compounds that change
color when they are exposed to ultraviolet light from the Sun. The exact makeup remains uncertain, but the substances are believed to be phosphorus,
sulfur or possibly hydrocarbons. These colorful compounds, known as chromophores, mix with the warmer, lower deck of clouds. The zones are formed when rising convection cells form crystallizing ammonia that masks out these lower clouds from view.
Jupiter's low axial tilt means that the poles constantly receive less solar radiation than at the planet's equatorial region. Convection within the interior of the planet transports more energy to the poles, however, balancing out the temperatures
at the cloud layer.
Great Red Spot and other storms
This dramatic view of Jupiter's Great Red Spot and its surroundings was obtained by Voyager 1 on February 25, 1979, when the spacecraft was 9.2 million km (5.7 million mi) from Jupiter. Cloud details
as small as 160 km (100 mi) across can be seen here. The colorful, wavy cloud pattern to the left of the Red Spot
is a region of extraordinarily complex and variable wave motion. To give a sense of Jupiter's scale, the white oval storm
directly below the Great Red Spot is approximately the same diameter as Earth.
The best known feature of Jupiter is the Great Red Spot, a persistent anticyclonic storm located 22° south of the equator that is larger than Earth. It is known to have been in existence since at least 1831, and possibly since 1665. Mathematical models suggest that the storm is stable and may be a permanent feature of the planet. The storm is large enough to be visible through Earth-based telescopes.
The oval object rotates counterclockwise, with a period of about six days. The Great Red Spot's dimensions are 24–40,000 km × 12–14,000 km. It is large enough to contain two or three planets
of Earth's diameter. The maximum altitude of this storm is about 8 km above the surrounding cloudtops.
Storms such as this are common within the turbulent atmospheres of gas giants. Jupiter also has white ovals and brown ovals, which are lesser unnamed storms. White ovals tend to consist
of relatively cool clouds within the upper atmosphere. Brown ovals are warmer and located within the "normal cloud layer".
Such storms can last as little as a few hours or stretch on for centuries.
Time-lapse sequence from the approach of Voyager I to Jupiter, showing the motion of atmospheric bands, and circulation of the great red spot. NASA image.
Even before Voyager proved that the feature was a storm, there was strong evidence that the spot could
not be associated with any deeper feature on the planet's surface, as the Spot rotates differentially with respect to the
rest of the atmosphere, sometimes faster and sometimes more slowly. During its recorded history it has traveled several times
around the planet relative to any possible fixed rotational marker below it.
In 2000, an atmospheric feature formed in the southern hemisphere that is similar in appearance to
the Great Red Spot, but smaller in size. This was created when several smaller, white oval-shaped storms merged to form a
single feature—these three smaller white ovals were first observed in 1938. The merged feature was named Oval BA, and has been nicknamed Red Spot Junior. It has since increased in intensity and changed color from white
Jupiter has a faint planetary ring system composed of three main segments: an inner torus of particles known as the halo, a relatively bright main ring, and an outer "gossamer" ring. These rings appear to be made of dust, rather than ice as is the case for Saturn's rings. The main ring is probably made of material ejected from the satellites Adrastea and Metis. Material that would normally fall back to the moon is pulled into Jupiter because of its strong gravitational
pull. The orbit of the material veers towards Jupiter and new material is added by additional impacts. In a similar way, the moons Thebe and Amalthea probably produce the two distinct components of the gossamer ring.
Jupiter's broad magnetic field is 14 times as strong as the Earth's, ranging from 4.2 gauss (0.42 mT) at the equator to 10–14 gauss (1.0–1.4 mT) at the poles, making it the strongest in the
Solar System (with the exception of sunspots). This field is believed to be generated by eddy currents — swirling movements of conducting materials—within the metallic hydrogen core. The field
traps a sheet of ionized particles from the solar wind, generating a highly-energetic magnetic field outside the planet — the magnetosphere. Electrons from this plasma sheet ionize the torus-shaped cloud of sulfur dioxide generated by the tectonic activity on the moon Io. Hydrogen particles from Jupiter's atmosphere are also trapped in the magnetosphere. Electrons within
the magnetosphere generate a strong radio signature that produces bursts in the range of 0.6–30 MHz.
At about 75 Jupiter radii from the planet, the interaction of the magnetosphere with the solar wind generates a bow shock. Surrounding Jupiter's magnetosphere is a magnetopause, located at the inner edge of a magnetosheath, where the planet's magnetic field becomes weak and disorganized. The solar wind interacts with these
regions, elongating the magnetosphere on Jupiter's lee side and extending it outward until it nearly reaches the orbit of Saturn. The four largest moons of Jupiter
all orbit within the magnetosphere, which protects them from the solar wind.
***NOTES FROM SOPHIA OF WISDOM III - THE MOTHER'S DARKNESS ARE THE 4 MOONS NOW AND THIS IS WHO
I KNOW THEY STOLE MY HOLY SPIRIT BLUE AND THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE USING TO PROTECT FROM THE SOLAR WINDS.
THEY ALSO MOVED THE AUROURA BOREALIS
Aurora borealis on Jupiter. Three bright dots are created by magnetic flux tubes that connect to the Jovian moons Io (on the left), Ganymede (on the bottom) and Europa (also on the bottom). In addition, the very bright almost circular region, called the main oval, and
the fainter polar aurora can be seen.
The magnetosphere of Jupiter is responsible for intense episodes of radio emission from the planet's polar regions. Volcanic activity on the Jovian moon Io (see below) injects
gas into Jupiter's magnetosphere, producing a torus of particles about the planet. As Io moves through this torus, the interaction
generates Alfven waves that carry ionized matter into the polar regions of Jupiter. As a result, radio waves are generated through
a cyclotron maser mechanism, and the energy is transmitted out along a cone-shaped surface. When the Earth intersects this cone,
the radio emissions from Jupiter can exceed the solar radio output.
Orbit and rotation
The average distance between Jupiter and the Sun is 778 million km (about 5.2 times the average
distance from the Earth to the Sun, or 5.2 AU) and it completes an orbit every 11.86 years. The elliptical orbit of Jupiter
is inclined 1.31° compared to the Earth. Because of an eccentricity of 0.048, the distance from Jupiter and the Sun varies by 75 million km between perihelion and aphelion, or the nearest and most distant points of the planet along the orbital path respectively.
The axial tilt of Jupiter is relatively small: only 3.13°. As a result this planet does not experience
significant seasonal changes, in contrast to Earth and Mars for example.
Jupiter's rotation is the fastest of all the Solar System's planets, completing a rotation on its axis in slightly less than ten hours; this creates an equatorial bulge easily seen through an Earth-based amateur telescope. This rotation requires a centripetal acceleration at the equator of about 1.67 m/s², compared to the equatorial surface gravity of 24.79 m/s²;
thus the net acceleration felt at the equatorial surface is only about 23.12 m/s². The planet is shaped as an oblate spheroid, meaning that the diameter across its equator is longer than the diameter measured between its poles. On Jupiter, the equatorial diameter is 9275 km longer than the diameter measured through the poles.
Because Jupiter is not a solid body, its upper atmosphere undergoes differential rotation. The rotation of Jupiter's polar atmosphere is about 5 minutes longer than that of the equatorial atmosphere; three "systems" are
used as frames of reference, particularly when graphing the motion of atmospheric features. System I applies from the latitudes
10° N to 10° S; its period is the planet's shortest, at 9h 50m 30.0s. System II applies at all latitudes north and
south of these; its period is 9h 55m 40.6s. System III was first defined by radio astronomers, and corresponds to the rotation of the planet's magnetosphere; its period is Jupiter's "official" rotation.
Jupiter is usually the fourth brightest object in the sky (after the Sun, the Moon and Venus); however at times Mars appears brighter than Jupiter. Depending on Jupiter's position with respect to the Earth, it can vary
in visual magnitude from as bright as −2.8 at opposition down to −1.6 during conjunction with the Sun. The angular diameter of Jupiter likewise varies from 50.1 to 29.8 arc seconds. Favorable oppositions occur when Jupiter is passing through perihelion, an event that occurs once per orbit. As Jupiter
approaches perihelion in March 2011, there will be a favorable opposition in September 2010.
The retrograde motion of an outer planet is caused by its relative location with respect to the
Earth overtakes Jupiter every 398.9 days as it orbits the Sun, a duration called the synodic period. As it does so, Jupiter appears to undergo retrograde motion with respect to the background stars. That is, for a period of time Jupiter seems to move backward in
the night sky, performing a looping motion.
Jupiter's 12-year orbital period corresponds to the dozen constellations in the zodiac. As a result, each time Jupiter reaches opposition it has advanced eastward by about the width of a zodiac constellation.
The orbital period of Jupiter is also about two-fifths the orbital period of Saturn, forming a 5:2 orbital resonance between the two largest planets in the Solar System.
Because the orbit of Jupiter is outside the Earth's, the phase angle of Jupiter as viewed from the Earth never exceeds 11.5°, and is almost always close to zero. That is,
the planet always appears nearly fully illuminated when viewed through Earth-based telescopes. It was only during spacecraft
missions to Jupiter that crescent views of the planet were obtained.
Research and exploration
Ground-based telescope research
In 1610, Galileo Galilei discovered the four largest moons of Jupiter, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto (now known as the Galilean moons) using a telescope; thought to be the first observation of moons other than Earth's.
Note, however, that Chinese historian of astronomy, Xi Zezong, has claimed that Gan De, a Chinese astronomer, made this discovery of one of Jupiter's moons in 362 BC with the unaided eye, nearly two millennia before any Europeans. Galileo's was also the first discovery of a celestial motion not apparently centered on the Earth. It was a major point in favor of Copernicus' heliocentric theory of the motions of the planets; Galileo's outspoken support of the Copernican theory placed him
under the threat of the Inquisition.
During 1660s, Cassini used a new telescope to discover spots and colorful bands on Jupiter and observed
that the planet appeared oblate; that is, flattened at the poles. He was also able to estimate the rotation period of the
planet. In 1690 Cassini noticed that the atmosphere undergoes differential rotation.
The Great Red Spot, a prominent oval-shaped feature in the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, may have been observed as early
as 1664 by Robert Hooke and in 1665 by Giovanni Cassini, although this is disputed. The pharmacist Heinrich Schwabe produced the earliest known drawing to show details of the Great Red Spot in 1831.
The Red Spot was reportedly lost from sight on several occasions between 1665 and 1708 before becoming
quite conspicuous in 1878. It was recorded as fading again in 1883 and at the start of the twentieth century.
Both Giovanni Borelli and Cassini made careful tables of the motions of the Jovian moons, allowing predictions of the times
when the moons would pass before or behind the planet. By the 1670s, however, it was observed that when Jupiter was on the
opposite side of the Sun from the Earth, these events would occur about 17 minutes later than expected. Ole Rømer deduced that sight is not instantaneous (a finding that Cassini had earlier rejected), and this timing discrepancy was used to estimate the speed of light.
In 1892, E. E. Barnard observed a fifth satellite of Jupiter with the 36-inch refractor at Lick Observatory in California. The discovery of this relatively small object, a testament to his keen eyesight, quickly made him famous.
The moon was later named Amalthea. It was the last planetary moon to be discovered directly by visual observation. An additional eight satellites were subsequently discovered prior to the flyby of the Voyager 1 probe in 1979.
In 1932, Rupert Wildt identified absorption bands of ammonia and methane in the spectra of Jupiter.
Three long-lived anticyclonic features termed white ovals were observed in 1938. For several decades
they remained as separate features in the atmosphere, sometimes approaching each other but never merging. Finally, two of
the ovals merged in 1998, then absorbed the third in 2000, becoming Oval BA.
In 1955, Bernard Burke and Kenneth Franklin detected bursts of radio signals coming from Jupiter at 22.2 MHz. The period of these bursts matched the rotation of the planet, and they were also able to use this information to refine
the rotation rate. Radio bursts from Jupiter were found to come in two forms: long bursts (or L-bursts) lasting up to several
seconds, and short bursts (or S-bursts) that had a duration of less than a hundredth of a second.
Scientists discovered that there were three forms of radio signals being transmitted from Jupiter.
Enter subhead content here