15 Interesting Facts About Planet Jupiter That You Should Know

Jupiter is the fourth planet in our Solar System and the biggest one, Here are some facts you may find interesting

Jupiter
Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock.com

Planet Jupiter is the fifth planet in our solar system. Named after the Roman king of the gods, Jupiter is 2.5 times more massive than all other planets in our solar system combined. Jupiter’s atmosphere is primarily made up of hydrogen gas and helium gas. The entire planet is covered in thick red, brown, yellow and white clouds. This is also why it is called a ‘gas giant’.

Facts about Jupiter

Equatorial Diameter of Jupiter:139,822 km
Mass:1.898 × 10^27 kg
Average Surface Temperature:-145°Celsius
Known Moons:69
First Record:7th or 8th century BC
Recorded By:Babylonian astronomers
Gravity:24.79 m/s²
Distance From Sun:778.5 million km
Orbit Period:4,300 days (12 years)
Length of day:9 hours 55 minutes and 30 seconds

1Jupiter has the shortest day of all the eight major planets in our solar system

Planet Jupiter completes one spin around its own axis once every 9 hours 55 minutes and 30 seconds. Due to its fast rotation, Jupiter has the shortest day in our solar system.

2Jupiter could be the oldest planet in our solar system

Previously computer models of the birth of Jupiter were built, but for the first time scientist can now discuss Jupiter’s age and formation based on measurements done in the lab. An international group of scientists reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that Jupiter’s rocky core merged less than a million years after the beginning of our solar system.

3Jupiter is the 4th brightest object in our solar system

After Sun, Moon, and Venus Planet Jupiter is one of the brightest objects in the solar system. It is also one of the five planets that you can see with the naked eye from Earth.

Jupiter in night sky
Via Stellarium

4Jupiter’s magnetosphere is roughly 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field

Jupiter has a complex and intense magnetic field which is thought to arise from electrical currents in the rapidly whirling metallic hydrogen interior.

Jupiter's magnetosphere
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

5You can fit more than 1,300 Earths inside Planet Jupiter

Earth’s size is nothing compared to Jupiter. Jupiter has a diameter of 139,822 km whereas Earth has a diameter of just 12,742 km. If we do the math, we could fit almost 1300 Earths inside the gas giant.

Jupiter and Earth Size Comparison
Tristan3d/Shutterstock.com

6Jupiter has faint narrow rings

Unlike Saturn which has bright ice rings, Jupiter has faint dark rings composed of four main components. They were first discovered in 1979 during NASA’s Voyager 1 flyby of Jupiter. These rings are called Jovian ring system. After Saturn and Uranus, it was the third ring system discovered in our Solar System. With the launch of NASA’s Galileo spacecraft in the 1990s, these rings were investigated in more detail. Jupiter has four sets of rings:  halo ring, main ring, the Amalthea gossamer ring, and the Thebe gossamer ring.

rings of jupiter - diagram
Credits: NASA

7Nine spacecraft have visited Planet Jupiter so far

There has been a total of 9 space probes that have visited Jupiter including the most recent ‘Juno’ probe which was launched on August 5, 2011, and is still in operation.

NASA Juno Spacecraft Jupiter
NASA Juno Spacecraft – Vadim Sadovski/Shutterstock.com

8Jupiter has the largest Moon in the solar system

Ganymede, Jupiter’s Moon is HUGE compared to other natural satellites in our solar system. It has a diameter of 5,268 km and is larger than both Mercury and Pluto. If Ganymede orbited the sun instead of Jupiter than it would easily be classified as a planet.

Ganymede and earth moon comparison
Credits: NASA

9Jupiter doesn’t actually orbit the Sun

Every object has a center of mass. This is the point at which it can be balanced. Jupiter is so big that it and Sun orbit a point outside the Sun. This point is known as the Barycentre. Yes, Jupiter still goes around the sun because it is smaller than Sun. But technically Jupiter and Sun both orbit a point that is just outside the surface of Sun. This is also the case for Dwarf Planet Pluto and its moon Charon, as well as many other binary asteroids and binary stars.

jupiter and sun barycenter
Illustration of Sun and Jupiter Barycenter

10Jupiter is the fasting spinning Planet in the Solar System

We do not yet know if a solid surface exists on Jupiter. Jupiter is called a ‘gas giant’ because its upper atmosphere is composed predominantly of hydrogen and helium, with 90% hydrogen and 10% helium. Due to this, it does not rotate like a solid sphere. Jupiter’s equator rotates a bit faster than its polar regions at a speed of about 43,000 kilometers/hour.

11Jupiter is shrinking every year by 2cm

Via NASA

According to astronomers, Jupiter was much hotter and was about twice its current diameter, when it was first formed. Jupiter radiates more heat than it currently receives from the Sun. Solar radiation from Sun, which Jupiter receives is similar to the amount of heat produced inside it. The additional heat is generated by the Kelvin–Helmholtz mechanism through the contraction. Due to this process, Jupiter is shrinking by 2cm every year. Along with the whole planet, Great Red Spot is also shrinking.

12Great Red Spot on Jupiter is 1.3 times as wide as Earth

Great red spot on Jupiter is a high-pressure zone producing an anticyclonic storm. It has possibly existed for more than 350 years. The 2017 NASA’s Juno flyby gave us further data to understand the Planet better. The Great Red Spot is 16,350 kilometers in width and the winds can travel at 430 to 680 kilometers per hour. According to 2014 NASA Hubble Space Telescope observations, the great red spot has appeared to be shrinking.

13Galileo discovery of Jupiter’s Moons was the first proof of celestial bodies orbiting something other than Earth

Galileo Galilei’s several improvements to the telescope and increased magnifying capability of 20× allowed him to discover Moons of Jupiter in either December 1609 or January 1610, also known as Galilean moons. The discovery also further supported Copernican heliocentrism, which stated that Earth is a planet like all others.

Also Read: Interesting Facts About Dreams

14Jupiter takes 11.86 Earth years to complete one orbit around the Sun

If you will watch Jupiter from Earth it will appear to be moving very slowly. It takes Jupiter months to move through different constellations. It travels at an average speed of 47,051 kilometers per hour in its orbit around the Sun.

15Planet Jupiter has the most Moons in the Solar System

As of 2017, Sixteen more moons have been discovered which are not yet given official status or names. Adding up to the already big list of 53 named moons. Scientists now think Jupiter has 69 moons.

Also Read: Interesting Facts About Planet Mars

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