According to foreign media reports, scientists have been puzzled by huge cyclones with regular geometric shapes around Jupiter’s poles for many years. The latest research has revealed how these huge cyclones first formed.
In 2016, after NASA’s Juno probe entered Jupiter’s orbit, it was discovered that huge cyclones were arranged geometrically at the poles of Jupiter. At the north pole of the planet, 8 vortices surround a central vortex, and there are 6 vortices in the South Pole .
Research report author Cheng Li, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Beckley, said: “We were surprised to find that Jupiter’s polar regions are completely different from other planets. We have never seen these cyclones arranged in a regular structure.”
Each giant cyclone storm is between 4000-7000 kilometers in diameter, and they respectively surround the south and north poles of Jupiter. They form a circle in an area 8700 kilometers away from the north and south poles of Jupiter, maintaining almost the same distance. Since the Juno probe reached Jupiter’s orbit, these cyclones and corresponding geometric shapes have lasted at least 4 years.
For scientists, how these clusters of cyclones remain stable is still a mystery. On Earth, cyclones drift to the poles, but gradually dissipate over land and cold water. In contrast, Jupiter has neither land nor ocean, which raises a question: Why didn’t the cyclone simply drift to the poles and merge? (For example: Saturn has one cyclone at each pole.)
Li Cheng said: “All the previous theories predicted that the main cyclone over the polar regions of giant planets would dominate the polar regions, just like what we observed on Saturn, or still a chaotic state. What we observed on Jupiter The situation means that the previous theories are all wrong, and we need some new theories to provide support.”
In order to explain the mystery of the formation of the Jupiter cyclone, Li Cheng and his colleagues developed a computer model based on the size and speed of the cyclone storm observed by the Juno probe. They focused on what factors can maintain these without merging. Stability of geometry.
This picture taken by the Juno spacecraft in November 2019 shows that Jupiter’s south pole has six cyclones arranged in a hexagonal shape. On a scale, the outline of the continental United States is superimposed on the central cyclone, while the outline of the state of Texas is superimposed on the latest cyclone.
The researchers found that the stability of these models partly depends on the depth of the cyclone’s entry into Jupiter’s atmosphere, but mainly depends on the anticyclone ring around each cyclone—that is, the direction of rotation of the anticyclone ring is opposite to the direction of each cyclone vortex. The shielding with less anticyclonic rings will cause the cyclones to merge; the shielding with more anticyclonic rings will promote the separation of the cyclones from each other.
There are still many unsolved mysteries of cyclone clusters that need to be revealed. For example, scientists still don’t know why Jupiter’s vortex happens to occupy a moderate anticyclone shielding zone. We don’t know what causes Jupiter’s cyclone to be in such a favorable position.
Scientists are currently studying how these cyclones first formed. One possibility is that they formed near the poles of Jupiter, which is where they are now; the other is that the cyclones formed in other regions and then migrated to the poles. The second speculation is more likely.
This may be a more difficult question to answer, Li Cheng said: “Because this involves a detailed three-dimensional model of how the vortex is generated, there are many vortex parameters that we don’t know, such as their vertical structure, but we can try different Under the circumstances, observe which vertical structures may produce the wind speed profiles we have observed. These wind speed profiles move forward from the vertical structure.”
The scientists published the details of the research report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published on September 7.
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