I am an editor and author at ‘The Secrets of the Universe’. I did my Ph.D. from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar in the field of theoretical plasma physics where I studied waves and nonlinear structures in space and astrophysical plasmas. I am now a postdoc at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, USA.
Today, I am going to tell you some amazing facts about Jupiter which is the largest planet in our solar system. We live on planet Earth which is a part of our solar system that falls in the Milky Way galaxy. But as we all know that Earth is not the only component or planet of our solar system. In fact, we are accompanied by seven planets and a dwarf planet who together go around the Sun in elliptical paths under the influence of gravity.
Jupiter is the largest planet of our solar system both in terms of mass as well as size. It is named after the Roman King of Gods. However, being a gas giant, it is completely inhabitable. This means that Jupiter is made up of gases and probably does not even possess a solid surface. Even after not being able to support life, scientists are much interested to know about this giant planet while hoping to unravel the actual theory of formation of the solar system. In this article, I am going to share with you some facts about Jupiter that I find amazing and I hope that you would too.
1. Fourth brightest object in the solar system.
Jupiter is the fourth brightest body of the solar system that can be observed from Earth. Objects brighter than Jupiter are the Sun, the Moon and the planet Venus. It is very likely that the brightest star-like object that we see in the night sky from Earth might be Jupiter.
2. Most massive
Jupiter has the largest mass among all planets of our solar system. It is 318 times more massive than the Earth. Approximately 1300 Earths can fit inside of it. In fact, its mass is twice the combined mass of all the remaining planets in our solar system.
3. Jupiter has the shortest day of all planets.
Jupiter rotates with a velocity of 12.6 km/s or 45,300 km/h. This means that it takes only about 10 hours to complete a full rotation on its axis. Due to its rapid spinning, this planet has flattened out at the poles a little and is bulging at its equator.
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4. The Great Red Spot is a huge storm on Jupiter.
Spotted in the 17th century, the great red spot on Jupiter is actually a giant anticyclonic storm. It has been there for more than 350 years. However, its size has shrunk to one half of that when it was first detected. It is so big that 3 Earths can fit inside it.
5. Jupiter has rings.
One of the most interesting facts about this giant planet is that it has rings. However, Jupiter’s rings are faint and are composed of mainly dust particles. These rings contain three major segments- an inner torus of particles known as the halo, a relatively bright main ring, and an outer gossamer ring.
6. Jupiter has the Largest moon in the Solar system.
Ganymede is Jupiter’s largest moon and also the largest moon in the solar system. Ganymede was discovered in 1610 by astronomer Galileo Galilei. It is even bigger than the planet Mercury. Jupiter also has the second most number of Moons – 79 to be precise. The title of the most number of Moons was taken by Saturn with the discovery of 20 new moon last year.
7. Nine spacecrafts have visited Jupiter.
Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini, Ulysses, and New Horizons missions are the eight spacecrafts that visited Jupiter. Juno is the ninth spacecraft to visit Jupiter most recently in 2016. Out of all these, Juno is the only one to orbit the planet for exploration. Rest were flyby missions.
8. Unique cloud features.
The upper atmosphere of Jupiter is divided into cloud belts and zones. The outer clouds are made primarily of ammonia crystals, sulfur, and mixtures of the two compounds. So, if we could smell these clouds, they would stink.
Recently, researchers have theorized that Jupiter might be the cause of existence of our beautiful planet Earth as it probably played a major role in its formation at the birth of solar system. The research was motivated from the fact that other solar systems have massive planets closer to the sun as compared to our solar system where massive planets like Jupiter and Saturn are farther away. The scientists wished to find the reason behind this discrepancy and came with an amazing theory. Isn’t that amazing ?
Well, curiosity is definitely at the heart of amazing scientific discoveries. Hope you appreciate these interesting facts about planet Jupiter!
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