If Jupiter is a gas-giant then why don't its features change?

  • A naive question. When we look at Jupiter, we see that its features didn't change largely over many years, for instance, the red-spot. If it is composed of gases and liquids, then why aren't the effects of mixing of these fluids visible?

    My intuition is that due to very low temperatures ($-145\, ^{\circ}$C), diffusion of fluids doesn't occur and therefore the superficial appearence of Jupiter remains the same.

    It's been around for over 4 billion years - why would you expect it not to have collapsed into some basic pattern in that time?

    Faulty question. It does change. Have you not ever looked at it?

    It changes all the time, and as long as you have a very good telescope (or access to the images posted by NASA) you can watch this. Very visible fluid dynamics!

    Voted to close - as Brian commented, this question is faulty.

    Can you try to put just a little more detail into your posts?

    @Juka I'm not sure what you expect from questions. Given how short some of your own posts are, I think you're holding others to a double standard.

    Not all of them are short.

    @Juka Not all, but most.

  • HDE 226868

    HDE 226868 Correct answer

    8 years ago

    Believe it or not, Jupiter isn't too consistent. Take a look at these pictures, the first taken in 2009 and the second taken in 2010:

    enter image description here


    enter image description here

    Quite the difference, eh? Why?

    Jupiter's atmosphere is made of zones and belts. Zones are colder and are composed of rising gases; they are dark-colored. Belts are warmer and are composed of falling gases; they are light-colored. The reason the two don't intermix is because of constant flows of wind, similar to the Jetstream. These winds make it hard for bands to mix.

    There are two types of explanations for the jets. Shallow models say that the jets are caused by local disturbances. Deep models say that they are the byproduct of rotating cylinders comprising the mantle. At the moment, we don't know which explanation is correct.

    How do you know that both pictures are of the same side of Jupiter? It rotates rather quickly.

    @NateEldredge Well they're rotated similarly enough to not include the great red spot at least.

    Voyager 1 made a timelapse of the surface. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHwkdcppsuo

    Here's a video of the same side of Jupiter, as Voyager approaches. They do some processing to make the image the same size, and some tweening, so it's not "pure", but it makes it obvious that the details do not remain static. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-9ULWGHFD0

    @NateEldredge Jupiter, like the sun and the other gas planets, undergoes differential rotation; for two photos separated by many days, Jupiter doesn't have well-defined "sides" like rocky planets do.

    @NateEldredge Note also the white spots near the bottom, which are roughly consistent in both images. True, they could have rotated around, but that would suggest that the other layers should have, too.

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