Image of Jupiter taken by the Cassini probe .
|Date||Known since ancient times|
|Stellar distance||588,000,000 kilometers|
|Longitude of the ascending node||100,492°|
|Argument of the periaster||275,066°|
|Major semi-axis||5.204267 UA|
|Derived orbital elements|
|Periastro o perihelio||4,950429 UA|
|Apoastro o afelio||5,458104 UA|
|Sidereal orbital period||11 a 315 d 1,1 h|
|Orbital period sinódico||398.9 days|
|Average orbital velocity||13.0697 km / s|
|Radio orbital medio||
778 412 026 km |
|Satellites||79 known [ 1 ]|
|Volume||1,4313 × 1015 km³|
|Area surface||6,41×1010 km²|
|Diameter||142 984 km|
|Escape velocity||59.54 km / s|
|Rotation period||9 h 55 m 30 s|
Comparison of Jupiter with Earth .
It is the planet that offers the greatest brightness throughout the year depending on its phase. It is also, after the Sun , the largest celestial body in the solar system, with a mass almost two and a half times that of the other planets combined (with a mass 318 times that of Earth and three times that of Saturn , in addition to being, in terms of volume, 1,317 times larger than Earth). It is also the oldest planet in the solar system, being even older than the sun ; This discovery was made by researchers at the University of Münster in Germany . [ 3 ] [ 4 ]
Jupiter is a massive gaseous body , made up mainly of hydrogen and helium , lacking a defined interior surface. Notable atmospheric details include the Great Red Spot (a huge anticyclone located in the tropical latitudes of the southern hemisphere), the structure of clouds in dark bands and bright areas, and the global atmospheric dynamics determined by intense zonal winds alternating in latitude and with speeds up to 140 m / s (504 km / h ). [ 5 ] [ 6 ]
Jupiter is the planet with the highest mass in the solar system: it is about 2.48 times the sum of the masses of all the other planets together. Despite this, it is not the most massive planet known: more than a hundred extrasolar planets that have been discovered have masses similar or greater than that of Jupiter. [ 7 ] [ 8 ] Jupiter also has the speed of rotation fastest of the planets of the solar system revolves slightly less than ten hours on its axis. This rotational speed is deduced from the magnetic field measurementsof the planet. The atmosphere is divided into regions with strong zonal winds with rotation periods ranging from 9:50 AM in the equatorial zone to 9:55 AM in the rest of the planet.
The planet is known for a huge meteorological formation, the Great Red Spot, easily visible by amateur astronomers given its large size, larger than that of Earth. Its atmosphere is permanently covered with clouds that allow tracing the atmospheric dynamics and show a high degree of turbulence.
Jupiter's mass is such that its center of gravity with the Sun is actually above its surface (1.068 solar radius , from the center of the Sun). [ 9 ] Despite being much larger than Earth (eleven times the diameter), it is considerably less dense. Jupiter's volume is equivalent to that of 1,317 Earths, but its mass is only 318 times greater. The unit of mass of Jupiter (M j ) is used to measure masses of other gaseous planets, especially extrasolar planets and brown dwarfs .
While Jupiter would need to be 80 times its mass to trigger the necessary hydrogen fusion reactions and become a star, the smallest known red dwarf has only 30% more radius than Jupiter (although it has much more mass). Jupiter radiates more heat than it receives from the little sunlight that reaches it up to that distance. The triggered heat difference is generated by Kelvin-Helmholtz instability through adiabatic contraction (shrinkage). [ 10 ] The consequence of this process is the contraction of the planet about two centimeters a year. [ 11 ]After its formation, Jupiter was much hotter and had a diameter almost twice that of today.
If it were about four times more massive, the interior could become much more compressed due to greater gravitational forces, which could lead to a decrease in volume, regardless of how its mass increases. As a result, it is speculated that Jupiter could reach one of the widest diameters that a planet of these characteristics and evolution can achieve. The process of volume reduction with mass increase could continue until a stellar combustion was achieved , as in brown dwarfs with a mass 50 times that of Jupiter. [ 12 ]This has led some astronomers to label it a "failed star", although it is unclear whether the processes involved in the formation of planets like Jupiter resemble the processes of creating multiple star systems .
Jupiter's atmosphere does not have a clear border with the liquid interior of the planet; the transition is taking place gradually. [ 13 ] It is composed mostly of hydrogen (87%) and helium (13%), in addition to containing methane , water vapor , ammonia and hydrogen sulfide , all of these with <0.1% of the composition of the total atmosphere. [ 14 ]
Bands and zones
The English amateur astronomer AS Williams made the first systematic study of Jupiter's atmosphere in 1896 . Jupiter's atmosphere is divided into dark belts called bands and light regions called zones, all of them aligned in the direction of parallels. The bands and zones delimit a system of alternating wind currents in the direction of latitude and generally of great intensity; for example, winds at the equator blow at speeds around 100 m / s (360 km / h ). In the North Equatorial Band, winds can blow at 140 m / s (500 km / h). The rapid rotation of the planet (9 h 55 min 30 s) causes the Coriolis forcesare very intense, being decisive in the atmospheric dynamics of the planet. [ 15 ]
The Great Red Spot
The English scientist Robert Hooke observed in 1664 a great meteorological formation that could be the Great Red Spot (known in English by the acronym GRS, the Great Red Stain). [ 16 ] However, there appear to be no subsequent reports of the observation of such a phenomenon until the 20th century. In any case, it varies greatly both in color and intensity. Images obtained by the Yerkes Observatoryat the end of the 19th century they show an elongated red spot, occupying the same range of latitudes but with twice the longitudinal extent. Sometimes it is a strong red color, and quite remarkable indeed, and at other times it pales to insignificance. Historically, the Great Red Spot was originally thought to be the top of a gigantic mountain or plateau that rose above the clouds. However, this idea was rejected in the 19th century when the composition of hydrogen and helium in the atmosphere was spectroscopically verified and it was determined that it was a fluid planet. The current size of the Great Red Spot is about two and a half times that of Earth. Meteorologically, the Great Red Spot is a huge anticyclonevery stable over time. The winds at the periphery of the vortex have a speed close to 400 km / h.
The Little Red Spot
In March 2006 it was announced that a second red spot had formed about half the size of the Great Red Spot. This second red spot was formed from the fusion of three large white ovals present in Jupiter since the 1940s, called BC, DE and FA, and merged into one between 1998 and 2000, giving rise to a single white oval called BA White Oval , [ 17 ] whose color evolved towards the same tones as the Great Red Spot in early 2006. [ 18 ]The reddish coloration of both spots can occur when gases from the inner atmosphere of the planet rise in the atmosphere and suffer the interaction of solar radiation. Infrared measurements suggest that both spots rise above the main clouds. The change, therefore, from a white oval to a red spot could be a sign that the storm is gaining strength. On April 8, 2006, Hubble's advanced tracking camera took new images of the young storm.
Jupiter's upper clouds are probably made up of frozen ammonia crystals. [ 19 ] The reddish color is given by some type of unknown coloring agent although sulfur or phosphorus compounds are suggested . Below the visible clouds, Jupiter has quite possibly denser clouds of a chemical compound called ammonium hydrosulfide, NH 4 HS. At a pressure around 5-6 Pa there is possibly an even denser layer of water clouds. One of the proofs of the existence of such clouds is the observation of electrical discharges compatible with deep storms at these pressure levels. [ 20] Such convective storms can sometimes extend from 5 Pa to 300-500 hPa, about 150 km vertically.
Disappearance of the subequatorial belt
At the end of April 2010, different amateur astronomers [ who? ] noticed that Jupiter had altered the color of the subequatorial belt, traditionally dark, with the southern part appearing completely white and very homogeneous. [ 21 ] [ 22 ]The phenomenon took place when Jupiter was in opposition to the Sun, being therefore, observable from Earth. Several hypotheses are considered to explain this change, the one considered most probable is a change in the coloration of the clouds without substantial changes in the height or quantity of particles that form them. This phenomenon of apparent disappearance of a band occurs semi-cyclically in Jupiter, having been observed previously on several occasions, particularly in 1993 when it was studied in detail.
Jupiter Clouds Image Gallery
Photograph of Jupiter obtained by the Cassini mission in December 2000
Inside the planet, hydrogen , helium and argon (the noble gas that accumulates on the surface of Jupiter) are progressively compressed. Molecular hydrogen is compressed in such a way that it transforms into a metallic liquid at depths of about 15,000 km below the surface. Below the existence of a rocky core composed mainly of ice and denser materials, about seven masses terrestrial expected (although a recent model increases the mass of the core of this planet between 14 and 18 land masses, [ 23 ] and other authors think that such a nucleus may not exist, [ 24 ]In addition to the possibility that the nucleus was larger in the beginning, but that the convective currents of hot metallic hydrogen would have made it lose mass). The existence of the different layers is determined by the study of the gravitational potential of the planet, measured by the different space probes. If the inner nucleus exists, it would prove the theory of planetary formation from a disk of planetesimals. Jupiter is so massive that it has not yet released the heat accumulated in its formation, and therefore has an important internal source of heat energy that has been precisely measured and is equivalent to 5.4 W / m². This means that the interior of the planet is effectively mixed to at least near cloud levels of water at 5 bar.
The same model mentioned above, which gives a greater mass to the planet's core, considers that it has an internal structure formed by concentric cylinders that rotate at different speeds - the equatorial (which are the external ones) faster than the internal ones -, so similar to the Sun; It is expected that the Juno mission , which was launched on August 5, 2011 [ 25 ] and which entered orbit around the planet on July 4, 2016, [ 26 ] can determine with its measurements of Jovian gravity the structure internal planet.
Jupiter has a large magnetosphere made up of a very strong magnetic field . [ 27 ] Jupiter's magnetic field could be seen from Earth occupying a space equivalent to that of the full Moon despite being much further away. Jupiter's magnetic field is in fact the largest structure in the solar system after the Sun's magnetic field . The charged particles are picked up by the Jovian magnetic field and driven into the polar regions where they produce impressive auroras . On the other hand, the particles ejected by the volcanoes of the Io satellitethey form a rotating torus in which the magnetic field traps additional material that is conducted through the field lines above the planet's upper atmosphere.
The origin of the magnetosphere is thought to be due to the fact that deep inside Jupiter, hydrogen behaves like a metal due to the extremely high pressure. Metals are, of course, excellent conductors of electrons, and the planet's rotation produces currents, which in turn produce a large magnetic field.
The Pioneer probes confirmed the existence of the Jovian magnetic field and its intensity, being more than 10 times higher than the Earth's one, containing more than 20,000 times the energy associated with the Earth's field. The Pioneers discovered that the shock wave from the Jovian magnetosphere extends 26 million kilometers from the planet, with the magnetic tail extending beyond the orbit of Saturn .
Variations in the solar wind cause rapid variations in the size of the magnetosphere . This aspect was studied by the Voyager probes . It was also discovered that charged atoms were expelled from the Jovian magnetosphere with great intensity and were able to reach the orbit of the Earth . Electric currents were also found flowing from Jupiter to some of its satellites, particularly Io and also to a lesser extent Europa .
The main satellites of Jupiter were discovered by Galileo Galilei on January 7, 1610 , which is why they are called Galilean satellites . They receive their names from Greek mythology, although in Galileo's time they were called by Roman numerals depending on their order of proximity to the planet. Galileo originally baptized the satellites as "Mediceans", in honor of Cosme de Medici , Duke of Florence. The discovery of these satellites constituted a turning point in the already long dispute between those who held the idea of a geocentric system, that is, with the Earth at the center of the universe, and the Copernican (or heliocentric system, that is, with the Sun in the center of the solar system), in which it was much easier to explain the movement and the very existence of the natural satellites of Jupiter.
The four main satellites are very different from each other. Io , the innermost, is a volcanic world with a surface in constant renewal and heated by tidal effects caused by Jupiter and Europa. [ 28 ] Europe , the next satellite, is a frozen world under which the presence of liquid water oceans and even the presence of life is speculation. [ 29 ] Ganymede , with a diameter of 5268 km, is the largest satellite in the solar system. It is composed of an iron core covered by a rocky mantle and ice. Callisto it is characterized by being the body that has the largest number of impact craters in the entire solar system.
|Name||Diameter (km)||Mass (kg)||
Radio orbital medio |
In addition to the aforementioned Galilean satellites , the various space probes sent to Jupiter and observations from Earth have expanded the total number of Jupiter satellites to 79. [ 1 ] These smaller satellites can be divided into two groups:
- Amalthea Group : they are four small satellites that revolve around Jupiter in orbits internal to those of the Galilean satellites . This group is composed (in order of distance) by Metis , Adrastea , Amalthea and Thebe .
- Irregular satellites : it is a large group of satellites in orbits very far from Jupiter; in fact, they are so far from this that the gravity of the sun significantly distorts their orbits. With the exception of Himalia , they are generally small satellites. In turn, this group can be divided into two, the progrades and the retrograde. Most of these objects have a very different origin than the larger satellites, possibly being captured and unformed bodies in their current orbits. Others may be the remains of impacts and fragmentations of previous larger bodies. Members of this group include Aedea , Aitné , Ananké , Arce, Autónoe , Caldona , Cale , Chalice , Calírroe , Carmé , Carpus , Cilene , Elara , Erínome , Euante , Eukélade , Euporia , Eurídome , Harpálice , Hegemone , Heliké , Hermipé , Herse , Himalia , Isonoe , Kallichore , Kore , Leda , Leda ,Lisitea , megaclite , Mneme , Orthosia , Pasífae , Pasithea , praxidike , Sinope , Sponde , Taygete , thelxinoe , Temisto , Tione , Jocasta and other 17 do not yet have definitive name.
In addition to its satellites, Jupiter's gravitational field controls the orbits of numerous asteroids located at the Lagrange points preceding and following Jupiter in its orbit around the Sun. [ 30 ] These asteroids are called Trojan asteroids and are divided in Greek and Trojan bodies to commemorate the Iliad . The first of these asteroids to be discovered was 588 Achilles , by Max Wolf in 1906 . Hundreds of Trojan asteroids are currently known. The largest of them all is asteroid 624 Hector .
Jupiter has a faint ring system that was discovered by the Voyager 1 probe in March 1979 . [ 31 ] [ 32 ] The main ring is about 6400 km wide orbit the planet 122,800 away from the center and has a lower vertical thickness to ten kilometers. Its optical thickness is so small that it has only been observed by the Voyager 1 and 2 and Galileo space probes.
The rings have three segments: the innermost one called the halo (shaped like a torus instead of a ring), the middle one that is considered the main one because it is the brightest, and the outer one, dimmer but larger. The rings are made of dust rather than ice like the rings of Saturn. The main ring is probably composed of material from the satellites Adrastea and Metis; This material is gradually drawn towards Jupiter thanks to its strong gravity. At the same time, it is being replaced by the impacts on these satellites that are in the same orbit as the main ring. The satellites Amalthea and Thebes perform a similar task, supplying the outer ring with material.
The formation theories of the planet are of two types:
- formation from an ice core with a mass around 10 times the Earth's mass capable of attracting and accumulating the gas of the protosolar nebula
- early formation by direct gravitational collapse as would occur in the case of a star.
Both models have very different implications for the general formation patterns of the solar system and of extrasolar planet systems . In both cases, the models have difficulty explaining the total size and mass of the planet, its orbital distance of 5 ua , which seems to indicate that Jupiter did not move substantially from the formation region, and the chemical composition of its atmosphere, in particular of noble gases, enriched with respect to the Sun. The study of the internal structure of Jupiter, and in particular, the presence or absence of an inner nucleus, would allow to distinguish both possibilities.
The properties of the interior of the planet can be explored remotely from gravitational disturbances detected by a nearby space probe.
Currently there are proposals for space missions for the next decade that could answer these questions.
Comet SL9 impact
In July 1994 , Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 struck Jupiter's atmosphere. The comet had been disintegrated by the action of Jupiter's gravity into 20/22 fragments in a previous and close pass by the planet. [ 33 ]
Many observatories carried out intensive planet observation campaigns on the occasion of this unique event, including the Hubble space telescope and the Galileo probe that was still approaching the planet at that time. The impacts showed the formation of impressive fireballs in the minutes after each impact, from which analysis the mass of each of the comet fragments could be deduced. The debris left in the atmosphere was observed as expanding black clouds for weeks propagating like shock waves. Its properties made it possible to analyze both the properties of the comet and the Jovian atmosphere and its deep interior by methods analogous to those of seismology.land. The comet remains could be detected for several years in the upper atmosphere of the southern hemisphere of Jupiter, present as fine dark particles and through a higher atmospheric concentration of certain chemical compounds contributed by the comet.
Jupiter, due to its large mass, has been estimated to disturb cometary regions such as the Oort cloud by attracting most comets that fall on the inner solar system . However, it also brings them closer together so it is difficult to estimate the importance of Jupiter in the arrival of comets to Earth. [ 34 ] [ 35 ]
On July 19, 2009, Anthony Wesley, an Australian amateur astronomer announced the discovery of a black spot similar in size to the diameter of the Moon that had appeared in the atmosphere of Jupiter in the southern subpolar region. This spot was possibly caused by an asteroid or cometary impact with the planet. Scientists at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena , confirmed the impact using the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF, NASA Infrared Telescope Facility) located on the Hawaiian island of Mauna Kea. [ 37 ]
The impacting object, with an estimated diameter of about 500 meters, caused a rise in temperature in the upper layers of the Jovian atmosphere at the site of impact and a large cloud of dark dust particles that form the impact spot of great extension and that continued being observable during several months of form progressively more tenuous when being dispersed the rest of the impact by the winds of the atmosphere of Jupiter. At the moment it is unknown if the object that hit Jupiter was an asteroid or a comet. The impact, discovered by chance, occurred 15 years after the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 .
On June 3, 2010, almost a year later, Anthony Wesley and Christopher Go (an amateur astronomer from the Philippines) simultaneously observed the appearance of an intense flash of light on Jupiter in a very localized region corresponding to the impact of a body. Smaller asteroidal or cometary size than in 2009. [ 38 ] The flash, which lasted a few seconds, occurred at equatorial latitudes and does not appear to have left any remnants of observable material in the Jovian atmosphere at the moment.
Jupiter space exploration
The Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 missions conducted a preliminary overflight exploration of the planet. The Pioneer 10 probe flew by Jupiter for the first time in history in December 1973. The Pioneer 11 probe followed just a year later. The first close-up photos of Jupiter and the Galilean satellites were taken, its atmosphere was studied, its magnetic field was detected, and its radiation belts were studied.
The Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 missions visited Jupiter in 1979, revolutionizing knowledge of the planet and its satellites and also discovering its ring system. It was discovered that Io had extraordinary volcanic activity and that Jupiter also possessed rings. In 1995 the Galileo mission, consisting of a probe and an orbiter, began a seven-year mission to explore the planet. Although the mission had major problems with the main antenna that relayed the data to Earth, it managed to send information of unprecedented quality over Jupiter's satellites, discovering the subsurface oceans of Europa and several examples of active volcanism on Io. The mission concluded by launching the orbiter against the planet itself to avoid a future collision with Europa that could contaminate its ice.
In December 2000, the Cassini / Huygens space mission carried out a distant flyby on its journey to Saturn, obtaining a data set comparable in quantity to the flybys made by Voyager but with a better quality of observations. At the end of February 2007 the planet Jupiter was visited by the New Horizons probe on its journey to Pluto .
How to locate it
Just like the rest of the planets more external than the Earth in its orbit with respect to the Sun, Jupiter can occupy any part of the ecliptic or be hidden behind the Sun. It does not happen as with Venus and Mercury, that by having their orbits closer to the Sun than that of Earth, we can only locate them in the direction of the star. Given its brightness, Jupiter is visible to the naked eye, [ 41 ] which appears as a pale, rounded star, being the second brightest planet to the naked eye after Venus . With a telescope , you can also see its atmosphere and its satellites.
- Galilean satellite
- Cometa Shoemaker-Levy 9
- Voyager 1
- Voyager 2
- Galileo (space probe)
- Annex: Planets of the solar system
- Annex: Data of the planets and rounded objects of the solar system
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