You know it as the 5th planet in our solar system, and the biggest, but what do you really know about Jupiter? Join us as we explore some of the more unusual elements of Jupiter!
9. Jupiter’s Size And Type Helps It Stay Big
As we outlined in the intro to the video, Jupiter is the biggest planet in our solar system. In fact, just in comparison to Earth, it’s 318 times bigger than our home planet. That’s a pretty orb in the solar system. Just as shocking, if you were to combine all the planets outside of Jupiter…that fusion would still be 2.5 times SMALL than our gas planet giant. That’s pretty scary. But when you look deeper into its composition, something more interesting reveals itself.
Mainly, if for whatever reason, something caused Jupiter to grow in size (which technically is not unheard of in the universe), it wouldn’t stay big for too long. In fact, that growth…would cause it to shrink. Confused? The keyword here is density. The more mass you have, the more pull your gravity has. Right now, because it’s a certain size of gas planet, the gravity isn’t pulling TOO hard. But, should it grow any more, the density of the planet would grow, and thus the gravity would be more intense. And that would actually reign in the planet from expanding, and it would actually shrink a little. Not too much, but enough.
Based on estimates, it’s believed that it could grow in density by a factor of 4…and yet only shrink a little. Weird.
8. You Can “Hear” Jupiter
I’m sure you’re scratching your head on this one. I mean, how can you “hear” a planet that technically doesn’t make sounds and has no natural life on it? Simple, just like there’s many different ways to “hear” things on Earth, there are many different ways to “hear” things in space. Including using radio waves. Radio Astronomy is a big part of exploring space, and it’s actually the reason that we helped confirm the possibility of the Big Bang Theory. In terms of the planets, ones like Jupiter emit their own radio waves.
For Jupiter, it produces radio waves at 5-40 megahertz. So, if you have a shortwave radio, and you’re able to point its antennae at Jupiter, you would technically be able to hear those radio frequencies.
But how does it produce such a radio pulse? It has to do with the magnetic field of the planet. To put it simply, there are subatomic particles in the magnetic field that bounce around in such a wave that it produces radio waves.
Which brings us to…what does Jupiter “sound like”? According to confirmed recordings of the planet (of which NASA has some for you to listen to if you feel so inclined), it sounds at times like the popping of popcorn. And other times, it sounds like the roar of ocean waves crashing on the shore.
Who knew Jupiter had so much to say?
7. Jupiter Was Discovered About 3000 Years Ago
When you look up at the sky and see all the stars and occasionally the planets…you know what you’re looking at. You’re taught in one way or another the importance of the planets, what they meant to the solar system and universe at large and why they’re in the sky. But, can you imagine what it was like a few thousand years ago when you looked up at the sky and saw all those twinkling lights?
Because of a lack of knowledge, there was a lot of people who felt that the universe was either smaller than it actually was, or that the Earth/Sun was the center of the universe (hint: it isn’t). Yet what’s incredible is that despite this lack of knowledge and technology, certain civilizations were still able to understand what the bodies were in the sky. including the ancient Babylonians, who apparently discovered Jupiter in the 8th century BC! That’s well over 3000 years ago.
Now true, in the right place and time you can see Jupiter in the sky, but 3000 years ago? That’s really interesting that they were able to tell that it was another planet.
And they say people couldn’t do anything back then.
Whether you realize it or not, the Earth is spinning. In fact, it’s spinning at a pretty good rate, which is why it takes 24 hours to complete a full day. The reason you don’t feel it is in part due to gravity, the atmosphere of the planet, and more. Likewise, all the planets in the solar system rotate at their own rates. Some faster than others, and some slower than others. Due to its size, you’d expect Jupiter to be one of the slower moving planets in the solar system. After all, gas planet or not, that’s a lot of mass to move, right? Wrong.
In fact, Jupiter, for whatever reason, is the fastest spinning planet in our solar system. At 28,148 mph, it completes a full rotation on its axis at around 10 hours. That’s basically 2.5 times faster than Earth. And the fastest “day” in the entire solar system.
But don’t think that this speed doesn’t have side effects, it actually has plenty. First off, the poles and equator on Jupiter are either flattened or engorged because of the fast speed. Second, the speed has helped intensify the magnetic fields of the planet. And third, the rotation speeds are part of the reason that Jupiter has dangerous amounts of radiation in its atmosphere.
As for why it’s spinning so fast despite it’s speed, it’s a little unclear, but just be thankful that this isn’t happening to Earth.
5. Its Magnetosphere Is Massive
Pop Quiz! What is the furthest point on a planet? Is it the surface? Nope. Is it the atmosphere…technically…but it does depend on the kind of Atmosphere, and how big it is. There are planets with atmospheres and magnetic fields that go beyond the “shape” of the planet you see. Where it comes to Jupiter though, let’s just say that it makes the giant of a planet…look small.
Specifically, Jupiter has a massive Magnetosphere. One that encompasses the planet in all directions and reaches out in such lengths that it technically is the biggest thing in our solar system. Yes, that means it’s not just bigger than Jupiter, it’s bigger than the sun. That’s part of the reason it’s hard to reach Jupiter in terms of drones and satellites, and just as hard to study it.
And in terms of strength, the Magnetosphere of Jupiter is 20 times more powerful than that of Earth.
4. “Invisible Rings”
Another pop quiz, how many planets in our solar system has rings? If you didn’t say Jupiter in that list of planets you named off, you would be wrong. For the longest time, Jupiter was thought to just be a gas giant planet without any rings, unlike its fellow gas planets Saturn and Uranus which most definitely have large visible rings.
But when a man named Charles Jevington went and stated that Jupiter did indeed have rings, you just couldn’t see him, it was discredited, and for very basic reasons. Mainly…you really couldn’t see them. Eventually, he explained how he figured it out, but it didn’t really help prove him right or wrong. Then, when the Voyager 1 Space Probe went past Jupiter in 1979, it noticed that Jupiter did indeed have rings. But not just one set, it actually had 4 different sets of them.
This was further confirmed by the Galileo probe in 1990. And these two satellites helped answer the question of why we can’t see the rings…they’re REALLY tiny. Like, dust-like tiny. Due to this, and the color of the dust, they can’t be seen by the naked eye or by distance shots.
As for how the rings formed. A meteor crashed into a moon of Jupiter, and the resulting dust got sent into Jupiter’s orbit, and thus started spinning around.
3. Lightning Striking Again
The atmosphere of Jupiter is not your typical atmosphere for a wide variety of reasons. But one of the worst parts about the atmosphere by far though is that it contains a constant and violent streak of lightning bursts. In fact, these lightning strikes are several times more powerful than the lightning that we have here on Earth. And if you recall, our lightning can kill people, destroy various materials, and can’t be generated by man in any significant capacity.
And also unlike Earth, the lightning doesn’t seem to stop, whereas Earth’s lightning requires a storm and other conditions to be just right.
Yet that’s still not the weird part. Yes, lightning that doesn’t stop striking is bad, but on Jupiter, it’s very localized. Specifically, it’s localized on the planets poles. This is due to the atmosphere and the heating that happens in certain areas. Near the equators, the heating is enough to disperse conditions so that the lightning can’t happen. But on the poles? Not so much. The result is a constant and epic lightning storm that would scare just about anyone.
2. The Moons and Satellites of Jupiter
If you were to look up at the Earth’s sky at night when the stars are out, you’re likely to see the moon. If you were to look towards Mars with a telescope, you’d see its two moons. Mercury and Venus have none thanks to their proximity to the Sun. But Jupiter? Well, that’s a weird story.
Officially, Jupiter has 69 moons, the most in the solar system (Saturn is close to it with 62 for the record). It has four major moons (known as the Galileo moons) that are the easiest to spot.
But that’s the rub. For a while, that’s all we thought it had, but when Voyager went by the planet, we realized that it had a massive 200 satellite entities in its orbit. And technically, there could be more. Why does a planet need that many moons and satellites orbiting it? I’m the wrong person to ask.
1. The Great Red Spot
Let’s be honest here, when you think about Jupiter, there are a few things that stick out in your mind the most. One of them is its size, again, the biggest in the solar system. But two, it has this big red spot on its side that just sticks out like a sore thumb. It was observed and studied back in 1830, and research on it hasn’t stopped since then. And technically, it was first noticed a few centuries earlier.
But what is the spot exactly? And why is it there at all? Well, we know part of the answer. We know that this is a storm, a massive one in fact. A storm so big that this “spot” could actually hold Earth a few times over depending on what time period you’re talking about. I say that because certain reports indicate that the storm itself may be “dying” based on its size and shape. Reports in the 21st century show that there is “flaking” going on, and bits of the storm are shooting out into the other parts of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Now, as for how the storm works, and how long it’s been there…no one really knows. As stated earlier, it’s been going on for centuries, that’s quite a big storm to last for hundreds of years. But we don’t know, or have many clues, as to how/why it started, why it’s lasting so long, or even how deep into Jupiter’s atmosphere it goes. It could be a surface level event, or, it could be something that touches the ground so to speak. We just don’t know.
But until it’s gone, you can expect us on Earth to be looking at that big spot.
Oh, and as for why it’s red…? We have no idea.
Thanks for watching everyone! What did you think of this look at the stranger side of Jupiter? Did you learn anything new about the planet? What did you think was one of the weirder aspects of the gas giant? Let me know in the comments below, be sure to subscribe, and I’ll see you next time on the channel!