There’s nothing like observation for contradicting, or supporting, theory and the Juno probe has already upset a few ideas that scientists had about Jupiter.
Since it established orbit around Jupiter in July of 2016, the Juno mission has been sending back vital information about the gas giant’s atmosphere, magnetic field and weather patterns, as Universe Today reports.
With every passing orbit – known as perijoves, which take place every 53 days – the probe has revealed more interesting things about Jupiter, which scientists will rely on to learn more about its formation and evolution.
During its latest pass, the probe managed to provide the most detailed look to date of the planet’s interior. In so doing, it learned that Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field is askew, with different patterns in its northern and southern hemispheres.
These findings were shared on Wednesday. Oct. 18th, at the 48th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences in Provo, Utah.
Ever since astronomers began observing Jupiter with powerful telescopes, they have been aware of its swirling, banded appearance. These colorful stripes of orange, brown and white are the result of Jupiter’s atmospheric composition, which is largely made up of hydrogen and helium but also contains ammonia crystals and compounds that change color when exposed to sunlight (aka. chromofores).
Until now, researchers have been unclear as to whether or not these bands are confined to a shallow layer of the atmosphere or reach deep into the interior of the planet. Answering this question is one of the main goals of the Juno mission, which has been studying Jupiter’s magnetic field to see how it’s interior atmosphere works. Based on the latest results, the Juno team has concluded that hydrogen-rich gas is flowing asymmetrically deep in the planet.
Another interesting find was that Jupiter’s gravity field varies with depth, which indicated that material is flowing as far down as 3,000 km (1,864 mi). Combined with information obtained during previous perijoves, this latest data suggests that Jupiter’s core is small and poorly defined. This flies in the face of previous models of Jupiter, which held that the outer layers are gaseous while the interior ones are made up of metallic hydrogen and a rocky core.
As Tristan Guillot – a planetary scientist at the Observatory of the Côte d’Azur in Nice, France, and a co-author on the study – indicated during the meeting, “This is something that was not expected. We were not sure at all whether we would be able to see that… It’s clear that giant planets have a lot of secrets.”
via Tallbloke’s Talkshop
October 30, 2017 at 05:27AM