We explain what Jupiter is, where it is located and what its structure is like. Also, what are its general characteristics and natural satellites.
What is Jupiter?
Jupiter is the fifth planet in the Solar System and the first of the gas or giant planets . It is located after the asteroid belt and before Saturn .
It has several natural satellites (67) but in reality there are 4 that are large and were discovered in 1610 by Galileo Galilei . The rest are believed to be planets that were close to Jupiter and that, due to its gravity , were trapped in its orbit.
Its composition is basically gaseous , although its core is believed to be solid.
Some scientists maintain that Jupiter is a failed star , since it has not grown large enough to become a star like the Sun.
Its name derives from the Roman god Jupiter, who in turn was known in the Greek world as Zeus.
Location of Jupiter
Jupiter’s temperature and atmosphere
Jupiter has a large thermal amplitude and its effective temperature is -148°C.
It has an atmosphere composed of several metals in gaseous state : 80% hydrogen , 16% helium and the rest is made up of water vapor , ammonia and methane.
Due to its colors (yellow, white and brown) , it is believed that it has some compound of sodium, potassium and iodine.
The winds that circulate in Jupiter’s atmosphere are very strong: between 192 and 400 miles per hour.
- The great red spot. A large storm ( tornado ) can be distinguished on the surface of Jupiter. The base of this storm is larger than Earth , it has been active for 300 years and it is not yet possible to deduce when it will end.
- The little red spot. Around the year 2006, three white spheres were unified to give rise to a large white spot that, little by little, turned to the color of the large red spot. It is believed to be a young storm.
The core is estimated to be composed of solid iron and other heavy metals as well as compressed water and ice, and to be very hot.
However, many scientists affirm that it does not have a solid core , so it is not possible to verify to date if this core is solid or gaseous .
There is a theory that suggests that the nucleus of Jupiter has so much pressure that the same electrons are displaced outwards and liquid hydrogen is a good conductor of electricity , which would favor the great magnetic field that this planet possesses.
Jupiter’s mass, gravity, and size
In terms of its mass, Jupiter is the largest planet in the Solar System or the second largest if we consider the Sun. The mass is 1317.9 times more than that of the Earth and it has a gravity of 2.34 times in relation to that of Earth .
Rotation and axis of Jupiter
It has a much faster rotation than the Earth. In fact, it is the fastest rotating planet in the Solar System.
Thus, a day on Jupiter lasts only 9.92496 hours . As for its journey around the Sun, it completes a complete orbit in 12 years.
Its axis is tilted only 3° . This means that it does not present seasonal changes, as it does on Mars or on Earth.
Satellites or moons of Jupiter
Jupiter’s satellites are Callisto, Europa, Ganymede and Io.
Jupiter has 67 minor planets that function as natural satellites (moons). These satellites are also called Galilean satellites in honor of Galileo Galilei, who discovered them in 1610. The most important (and those that are certainly considered to be satellites of Jupiter) are four:
- Ganymede and
- Io (io)
However, there are other moons or satellites besides the Galilean satellites described above:
- inner moons. These moons are known as the Amalthea Group . Their names are: Metis, Adrastea, Amaltea and Thebe.
- outer moons. The outer moons are larger in number, but smaller in size. Some even have an elliptical orbit. Others are believed to be just asteroids that have been trapped in the magnetic field of this planet.
Jupiter’s magnetic field
Jupiter’s magnetic field reaches between 3 and 7 million kilometers in the direction of the Sun. While, in the opposite direction, the magnetic field covers 750 million kilometers to reach the orbit of Saturn.
It is perhaps for this reason that giant planets are found after Jupiter since, if there were small planets, they would have been attracted to Jupiter, remaining trapped in its orbit.
Jupiter, like Saturn, has rings. The moons and rings are trapped in Jupiter’s magnetosphere (magnetic field).
These rings are made up of dust particles that are thrown into space when a meteorite or asteroid collides with one of Jupiter’s moons.
Failed Solar System
Due to its characteristics, it is believed that Jupiter could have been a star (Sun) .
Many scientists claim that if Jupiter were only 80 times larger than it is, it could have become a Sun and not a planet since nuclear fusion would have taken place inside it , a necessary condition for the formation of a star .
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