The face of Jupiter is being altered in front of our eyes by gigantic storms, scientists have discovered.
The gas giant is ringed with colourful belts and white zones which make it one of the most beautiful worlds in our solar system.
But surging tempests are creating massive ‘disturbances’ in the flow of these brights rings and even changing their colour.
The storm clouds are visible as bright plumes in the atmosphere
‘If these plumes are vigorous… they may disturb one of these entire bands over time, though it may take a few months,’ said Imke de Pater, professor emerita of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley.
‘With these observations, we see one plume in progress and the aftereffects of the others.’
It’s believed the disruptive plumes form some 80km beneath the cloud tops in an area ‘dominated by cloud of liquid water’.
These plumes ‘punch through’ the upper clouds and then spread out like the anvil-shaped cumulonimbus clouds that produce thunder and lightning here on Earth.
‘Our observations are the first to show that high concentrations of ammonia gas are brought up during an energetic eruption,’ de Pater said.
It was recenty claimed that Jupiter smashed into a planet of the same size and mass as the rudely-named gas giant hell world Uranus.
A new study has found that the largest planet in our solar system had a terrifying close encounter with a ‘planetary embryo’ with a similar mass to Uranus.
In a paper published in the journal Nature, scientists said a ‘giant collision’ could explain the structure of Jupiter.
Uranus may also have endured a similar cataclysm and is believed to have been tipped onto its side due to an encounter with a large and unrelenting object at some murky point in its history (we’ve all been there).
In their paper, scientists wrote: ‘We show that a sufficiently energetic head-on collision (giant impact) between a large planetary embryo and the proto-Jupiter could have shattered its primordial compact core and mixed the heavy elements with the inner envelope.’
This means Jupiter was ‘mixed’ as the object it collided with was absorbed into its core.
‘We suggest that collisions were common in the young Solar system and that a similar event may have also occurred for Saturn, contributing to the structural differences between Jupiter and Saturn.’
Earth ha also been hit by some truly epic disasters which threatened to derail the evolution of life.
Scientists recently revealed new details of how this planet survived a ‘cataclysmic past’ which ended with an apocalyptic event which melted the entire surface of our world.
In the era just after Earth formed, the solar system experienced ‘giant planet migration’ in which the biggest planets including Saturn and Jupiter began to move away from the sun.
We don’t understand what caused this phenomenon, but we know it sent huge waves of comets, asteroids and even small mini-worlds called proto-planets or planetesimals into the inner solar system.
A team from the University of Colorado has now sketched a new outline of the story of this epic era and claimed it happened much earlier than expected about 4.48 billion years ago.
The cataclysm ‘began with the comets that came screaming into the inner solar system’ said geologist Stephen Mojzsis.
‘The next wave was planetesimals left over from the formation of the inner planets,’ he continued.
‘The last group to arrive were the asteroids, which continue to leak toward us today.’
Researchers simulated the planets’ movements and analysed meteors on Earth to discover evidence of when this gigantic ‘bombardment’ took place.
The results pointed to 4.48 billion years ago, whereas previous estimates suggested the cataclysm happened about 3.9 billion years ago.
It’s crucial to pinpoint this date because life could have only evolved once the bombardment had ended.
Mojzsis said the findings ‘open up a new window for when life may have evolved on Earth’ and suggest ‘our planet may have been calm enough to support living organisms as early as 4.4 billion years ago’.
The oldest known fossil discovered here on Earth is just 3.5 billion years old.
‘The only way to sterilize the Earth completely is to melt the crust all at once,’ Mojzsis added.
‘We’ve shown that this hasn’t happened since giant planet migration commenced.’
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