Jupiter is known for its multiple stripes of different colors and is also famous for its Great Red Spot, a product of the natural gases within the planet itself. These colors are due to the chemistry of Jupiter’s gassy atmosphere, though the pattern for the stripes is attributed to long-lasting winds called zonal flows, which work like jet streams on Earth. The Earth has geographical features that interrupt such winds and Jupiter happens to lack those features. This means that the stripes are smooth lines that form around Jupiter’s atmosphere uninterrupted.

There were observations during NASA’s Juno mission that revealed the zonal flows stretching roughly 1,900 miles and below that is a swirling mass made up of gases.

According to physicists Jeffrey Parker and Navid Constantinou, in The Astrophysical Journal, magnetic fields prevent the flows from developing within spheres of fluid constantly rotating. There have been simulations showing that magnetic fields discourage zonal flows. They affect the way the planet works and are responsible for preventing zonal flows are actually entering the planet. The Juno mission is their ticket to understanding the phenomenon. Parker is quite involved in the data gathering from the Juno spacecraft that has entered Jupiter’s orbit in 2016. Parker notes that this is the work of theoretical physicists, who craft models to identify patterns in data. They wait for the data sets to correlate, and this is quite rare in the field, especially for cases like Jupiter and the brilliantly-colored stripes found in its gassy and heavy skies.

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