Jupiter is a giant gas planet. It is the largest planet in the Solar System, larger and more massive than all the other planets combined, and the fifth planet by its distance from the Sun (after Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars).
Jupiter is thus officially named, in French as in English, after the Roman god Jupiter, assimilated to the Greek god Zeus. In this article, you will find all about Jupiter for: god, temperature, distance to Earth, color, composition, astrology, peculiarity and many more.
The astronomical symbol of the planet was “♃”, which would be a stylized representation of Jupiter’s thunderbolt, or would be derived from a hieroglyph3 or, as certain papyri of Oxyrhynch4, from the Greek letter zeta, initial of the Greek old Ζεύς (Zeús). The International Astronomical Union recommends replacing the astronomical symbol “♃” with the abbreviation “J”, corresponding to the capital letter J of the Latin alphabet, the initial of the English Jupiter.
Jupiter, the colossus of the solar system.
Visible to the naked eye in the night sky, Jupiter is usually the fourth brightest object in the sky, after the Sun, Moon and Venus. Sometimes Mars appears brighter than Jupiter, and occasionally Jupiter appears brighter than Venus. Jupiter was at perihelion on March 17, 20118 and at aphelion on February 17, 20179.
As on the other gaseous planets, strong winds, of nearly 600 km / h, traverse the upper layers of the planet. The Great Red Spot is an anticyclone, an area of overpressure observed since at least the 17th century. Three times the size of the Earth at the start of the 20th century, it shrank to a comparable size a century later.
Read also: The order of the planets closest to the sun
Bringing together Jupiter and the objects within its sphere of influence, the Jovian system is a major component of the Outer Solar System. It includes in particular the many moons of Jupiter of which the four Galilean moons – Io, Europe, Ganymede and Callisto – which, observed for the first time in 1610 by Galileo using an astronomical telescope of his invention, are the first objects discovered by telescopic astronomy. It also includes the rings of Jupiter, a system of planetary rings first observed in 1979 by the American space probe Voyager 1.
Jupiter’s influence extends beyond the Jovian system to many objects including the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter.
Jovian mass is a unit used to express the mass of substellar objects such as brown dwarfs.
Size: 142,984 km in diameter
Mass: 1.90 × 1027 kg (318 Terres)
Distance to the sun: 778.5 million km
Distance from Earth: 600 Million km
Temperature: -161 ° C
1 Jovian day: 10 hours
1 Jovian year: 12 terrestrial years
Missions to Jupiter: Galileo, Juno
Surface: Hydrogen and helium gas
Rotation and orbit
Jupiter has the shortest day in the solar system. A day on Jupiter lasts about ten hours (duration of a turn on itself). A Jovian year lasts about twelve Earth years. Indeed, it takes about twelve years to complete a complete orbit around the Sun. Jupiter is tilted very little on its axis (3 degrees), which means that it has almost no seasons.
Formation and structure
Jupiter formed along with the rest of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago. It has recovered almost all the mass left by the Sun after the formation of the latter. Its volume is more than double of all the collected matter of the other bodies of the solar system!
This planet has all the necessary ingredients to create a star, but it has not grown enough to ignite.
Jupiter is made up primarily of hydrogen and helium, just like the Sun. In the depths of the atmosphere, pressure and temperature rise, compressing hydrogen until it turns the gas into liquid. The giant planet has the largest ocean in the solar system, made up of liquid hydrogen.
Scientists believe that in the depths of Jupiter, the pressure becomes so great that electrons are ejected from hydrogen atoms, causing the liquid to be electrically conductive like metal.
Jupiter’s rapid rotation is believed to conduct strong electrical currents to its depths, which would have the effect of generating its powerful magnetic field. It is still unclear whether the heart of Jupiter has a solid core, or if it is an ultra dense and hot liquid.
Since it is a gas planet, Jupiter does not have a surface to speak of. The planet is mostly made up of swirling gases and liquids. If we sent a spaceship there, it couldn’t land. It would also not be able to cross the planet, as the enormous pressure and temperature prevailing on Jupiter would quickly disintegrate it.
When we observe Jupiter, we discover large bands of colored clouds. The planet’s skies are believed to be made up of three layers of cloud approximately 70 kilometers thick. The top layer is probably made up of ammonia ice, the middle layer of ammonium hydrosulfide crystals, and the third layer of ice and water vapor.
The bright colors that can be seen in the thick cloud bands of Jupiter are probably plumes of sulfur and phosphorus from the interior of the planet.
Jupiter’s rapid rotation (one revolution every 10 hours) creates a large flux which has the effect of forming broad dark bands and others brighter.
Since this planet do not have a solid surface to slow them down, its various spots can last for many years. The planet is constantly swept by extremely violent winds, some of which can reach 600 km/h (372,82 mph) at the equator.
The Great Red Spot, a swirl of clouds the size of twice the Earth, has been observed by humans for over 300 years.
The Great Red Spot of Jupiter
The Great Red Spot is a gigantic anticyclone in the atmosphere of Jupiter located at 22 ° south of latitude. About 15,000 kilometers long and nearly 12,000 kilometers wide, it is currently a little larger than the Earth, although it has reached much larger dimensions in the past.
What is life like on Jupiter?
Jupiter’s hellish environment is probably not conducive to life as we know it. The pressure, matter and temperature on this planet are certainly too extreme and volatile for living organisms to adapt to.
While life seems unlikely on Jupiter, the same is not true for its many satellites! In fact, the Europe satellite appears to be more conducive to life than any other object in the solar system apart from Earth. Hints of a vast ocean beneath its icy crust give hope to many scientists that life may have settled there!
Its immense gravity and intense atmospheric pressure make it a hostile environment.
- Atmospheric Conditions: Jupiter’s atmosphere is a turbulent mix of thick clouds, strong winds, and violent storms. The planet’s famous “Great Red Spot” is a massive storm that has raged for centuries. The winds on Jupiter can reach speeds of up to 400 miles per hour (644 kilometers per hour), making it one of the stormiest places in the solar system.
- Extreme Gravity: Jupiter’s gravity is about 2.5 times stronger than Earth’s, making it a tremendous challenge for any living organism. Any object or living creature attempting to land on Jupiter would be crushed by the immense pressure long before reaching any solid core that might exist deep within the planet.
- No Solid Surface: Jupiter has no solid surface to land on, as it is a gas giant with its gases gradually transitioning into liquid form at greater depths. This characteristic makes it impossible for traditional life forms, which rely on a solid surface for stability, to exist on the planet.
- Harsh Radiation: Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field generates intense radiation belts that could prove lethal to living organisms. This radiation would be harmful even to spacecraft passing close to the planet, requiring significant shielding to protect delicate instruments and electronics.
- Lack of Essential Elements: While Jupiter has a diverse atmosphere, it lacks the necessary elements and conditions to support life as we know it. Water, a crucial component for life, is likely present in the form of clouds or as part of its composition, but the planet’s environment makes it inhospitable for life to thrive.
With its four large moons (Europe, Io, Callisto and Ganymede), a large number of smaller ones, Jupiter alone forms a sort of mini solar system. It has around 79 moons, with more likely to be discovered.
Jupiter’s four largest moons were discovered by astronomer Galileo Galileo in 1610 using one of the very first telescopes. These four moons are known today as the Galilean satellites (or Galilean moons) and are among the most fascinating objects in the solar system.
In 1979, the Voyager 1 probe revealed rings around Jupiter, a big surprise to scientists of the time. Data sent by Galileo revealed that these rings must have formed with dust ejected by meteorites crashing into the gas giant’s closest satellites.
Jupiter, a shield for the Earth?
Contrary to what we imagine, this planet is not acting like a shield protecting the Earth from a large number of asteroids and comets. According to scientific studies carried out by the British researcher Jonathan Horner through various simulations, if Jupiter did not exist, the Earth would be just as well! But more studies are needed to confirm this theory.
Why was the name Jupiter given to the gas giant? It is a Latin name for the Roman god who rules the Earth and the Sky as well as all living things therein. This name is associated with the Greek god Zeus, although they are different gods.
1610: Galileo makes the first detailed observations of Jupiter.
1973: Pioneer 10 is the first spacecraft to cross the asteroid belt and overfly Jupiter.
1979: Discovery of Jupiter’s rings, several moons and volcanic activity on the surface of Io thanks to the Voyager 1 and 2 probes.
1992: The Ulysses probe flies over Jupiter and then uses gravitational assistance, thus leaving the ecliptic plane of the planets to fly over the Sun.
1994: Astronomers around the world observe the collision of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter.
1995-2003: Galileo sends a probe into Jupiter’s atmosphere and reveals a great deal of information about the gas giant, its moons and its rings.
2000: The Cassini probe makes its closest flight over this planet (about 10 million km or 6,2 million miles), and takes high-resolution photos of the planet.
2007: The New Horizons probe, en route to Pluto, takes pictures of storms in Jupiter, its rings, volcanoes in Io and Europe.
2009: On July 20, almost 15 years after the collision with Shoemaker-Levy, a comet or asteroid crashes in the southern hemisphere of the giant planet.
2011: Launch of the Juno probe to explore the internal composition of Jupiter and its magnetosphere.
2016: The Juno probe goes into orbit around Jupiter to study its composition.
Planet Jupiter Interaction with the Solar System
Along with that of the Sun, Jupiter’s gravitational influence has shaped the Solar System. The orbits of most planets are closer to the orbital plane of Jupiter than to the equatorial plane of the Sun (Mercury is the only exception). Kirkwood’s gaps in the asteroid belt are likely due to Jupiter, and it is possible that the planet was responsible for the great late bombardment that the inner planets experienced at some point in their history.
The majority of short-period comets have a semi-major axis smaller than that of Jupiter. It is assumed that these comets formed in the Kuiper Belt beyond the orbit of Neptune. During Jupiter’s approaches, their orbit would have been disturbed towards a shorter period, then made circular by regular gravitational interaction of the Sun and Jupiter. In addition, Jupiter is the planet that most frequently receives cometary impacts. This is in large part due to its gravitational well, which has earned it the nickname “Vacuum Cleaner of the Solar System”. The popular idea that Jupiter “protects” other planets in this way is very debatable, however, as its gravitational force also deflects objects towards the planets it is supposed to protect.
What are the effects and influence of Jupiter in astrology?
In the field of astrology, the planet Jupiter plays an important role both professionally and financially. It illustrates a person’s energy, social and societal influence, reward, healthy finances and exciting prospects. This planet also has an influence on the state of mind, on the ability to regenerate, to surround oneself with positive waves.
Key words to remember: well-being, affability, harmony, fortune, glory, recognition, success.
In love, it announces unions, marriage, sincere and shared love. Thus it accompanies good fortune and guarantees luck and success. Obviously, this interpretation changes dramatically when the planet of Sagittarians retrograde.
Jupiter rules Sagittarius
Jupiter, by its presence in a horoscope, illustrates the situation at work, professional success or failure and optimism as a philosophy of life. This planet also gives indications on the opportunities which can mark out our existence. It represents authority, the male figure but also the pecuniary aspect. Conjugated to Venus, Jupiter gives indications on formalized romantic relationships. Air is the element associated with it.
When this planet has a positive influence, it symbolizes luck, success, organizational skills, and the joy that comes from work.
With negative input, Jupiter illustrates issues with righteousness, pretense, and lack of humility. It gives indications on the personalities carried on the excesses.
Thus we find under his influence the Sagittarius, characterized by optimism and fortune but also by their ability to work collectively, to seize the opportunities that mark their existence.
Jupiter is a fascinating and majestic giant in our solar system, but it is an uninhabitable planet for any known form of life. Its extreme atmospheric conditions, lack of a solid surface, intense gravity, and harsh radiation make it a hostile environment. As we continue to explore the wonders of our solar system, the study of Jupiter provides valuable insights into planetary formation and the incredible diversity of celestial bodies in the cosmos.
Photo credit: Kelvinsong / Wikimedia Commons