Phenomena

Jovian Belts and Zones

Jupiter’s colorful cloud bands alternate between dark belts and light zones. The bands mark convection cells in Jupiter’s atmosphere, and, like on Earth, powerful jet streams form due to this atmospheric heating and the planet’s rotation. The jet winds can even move in opposite directions, creating strong shear forces between neighboring cloud bands. The shear helps drive Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities in the clouds, resulting in the regularly spaced waves and vortices seen along the edges of some bands. (Image credit: NASA/ESA; via APOD)

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