Phenomena

Jupiter and the Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability

Jupiter, known for its colorful bands of stormy clouds, is a beautiful subject for fluid dynamics in action. As the planet turns, the cloud bands move at different relative speeds. This velocity difference at the interface of the bands can trigger the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability, resulting in a line of whorls where the cloud bands meet. The instability has been observed on Saturn and is thought to be fairly common among gas giants.

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