Jupiter’s stratospheric winds measured for the first time, tripling in speed of Earth’s strongest tornadoes

Jupiter's stratospheric winds measured for the first time, tripling in speed of Earth's strongest tornadoes

A team of astronomers, led by Thibault Cavalié , from the Bordeaux Astrophysics Laboratory (France), has traced one of these molecules (hydrogen cyanide) to directly measure the stratospheric "jets" on Jupiter (narrow bands of wind in the atmosphere, like the jet streams of the Earth).

And they reach speeds of up to 400 meters per second .


These wind speeds, equivalent to about 1,450 km / h , are more than twice the maximum storm speeds reached in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and more than three times the wind speed measured in the strongest tornadoes on Earth.

Measuring wind speeds in Jupiter’s stratosphere using cloud-tracking techniques is impossible due to the absence of clouds in this part of the atmosphere, so to directly measure the winds in the middle atmosphere of Jupiter for the first time Jupiter, the ALMA array (Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array) has been used.

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 , which collided with the gas giant in spectacular fashion in 1994. This impact produced new molecules in Jupiter’s stratosphere, where they have been moving with the winds ever since. What has been done is to trace one of these molecules (hydrogen cyanide).

The team used 42 of ALMA’s 66 high-precision antennas, located in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, to analyze hydrogen cyanide molecules that have been moving in Jupiter’s stratosphere since the Shoemaker impact. -Levy 9. According to Thibault Cavalié :

These ALMA results open a new window for the study of the regions of Jupiter with auroras, something really unexpected just a few months ago.