Astonishing image of Jupiter reveals never-before-seen wild weather phenomenon

Originally published at: Astonishing image of Jupiter reveals never-before-seen wild weather phenomenon | Boing Boing



The surface of the Earth is spinning 300 1000 mph at the equator (and ~300 mph in the artic). If somehow the air was still and not moving with it, we could have a similar jet stream. Maybe there is something funky about gas giants that causes parts of the atmosphere to not rotate as fast as the rest of the planet

edit: fixed incorrect rotation speeds as pointed out below by @nosaj

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Animated GIF

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Jupiter, being slightly larger than Earth, rotates at a bit over 28,000 mph at the equator, so your theory probably results from a coincidence rather than any real effect.



At the equator, the diameter is around 12 700 km, so a circumference of around 39 900 km. Divide that by 23h 56 min (because that’s how long it takes to rotate the Earth 360 degrees), that’s around 1660 km / h, or 1035 miles / hour.

But “nine hundred” is easier to sing than “a thousand” :slight_smile:

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First, it’s obviously not a theory, just something I wrote off the top of my head
Second, I didn’t mean that the air is stationary relative to the planet, just that it isn’t moving as fast as the rest. So that this is ~1/90th of rotational speed doesn’t make that seem any more improbable of an idea

It occurs to me that in some sense, that’s what the Coriolis effect is. The atmosphere near the poles is only rotating slowly, so when it moves closer to the equator it gets left behind by the surface. I’d easily believe that on a gas giant there’s less friction to make it catch up. :slight_smile:

For full disclosure though – Venus has a superrotating atmosphere, but I don’t actually understand how or why at all, which means I am missing something really important about how planetary atmospheres work.

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