Why is Jupiter stripy?

Jupiter's stripes, otherwise known as bands, create an interesting pattern on the planet's surface.

20th May 2017
Why is Jupiter stripy? (Getty)

Asked by: Oliver Flippance, Kenilworth

Jupiter’s stripes or ‘bands’ are caused by differences in the chemical composition and temperature of the atmospheric gas. The light-coloured bands are called ‘zones’ and show regions where the gas is rising. The dark-coloured bands are called ‘belts’ and show where gas is sinking. It used to be thought that the only cause for these bands was the strong atmospheric winds coupled with strong convection cells circulating material between different layers of the atmosphere. However, it is now thought that Jupiter’s moons also play an important role in making Jupiter stripy by tugging on the planet’s atmospheric convection cells. 

 


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