Why is Jupiter stripy? © Getty Images

Why is Jupiter stripy?

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

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.


Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.