Scientists are puzzled by strange polygon-shaped cyclones on Jupiter


One of the most studied planets by astronomers is Jupiter. Keen to better understand the planet’s atmosphere and search for clues of extraterrestrial life, astronomers have always been interested in the activities taking place on the surface of the gas giant. According to a report by Vice News, a group of scientists have now shed light on the strange storms surrounding Jupiter’s north pole. The publication added that each of these storms is the size of the United States.

The scientists, led by Andrew P. Ingersoll of the California Institute of Technology, hypothesized that an “anticyclonic ring” between the main cyclone and smaller cyclones keeps the clusters in their distinctive polygonal patterns and contributes to the stability of these storms.

But other questions about storms on Jupiter remain unanswered in the study, which was published in the journal Nature Astronomy.

The report says that since 2017, the Juno spacecraft has seen a large cyclone at Jupiter’s north pole surrounded by eight smaller cyclones grouped in a polygonal pattern. We do not know why or how to maintain this configuration, despite its stability.

The researchers added: “The polygons and the individual vortices that compose them have remained constant for four years since their discovery by Juno. The rotation of polygonal patterns is slow or non-existent.

The research is based on examining images taken by the Jovian InfraRed Auroral Mapper (JIRAM) instrument aboard Juno. However, regarding “the expected feature of convection – a spatial link between divergence and anticyclonic vorticity”, they were unable to discover data along the lines previously anticipated.

To resolve the conflicting evidence, they came to the conclusion that more research on Jupiter’s southern cyclones was needed.


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