Jupiter — the Biggest Planet in the Solar System

by Carson
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Jupiter -- the gigantic planet

Jupiter is the largest and the most massive planet in the Solar System. It is more than twice more massive than every other planet in the Solar System combined. So, what are the facts and features of Jupiter? Let’s find out.

Basic Information

Before we dive deep into Jupiter’s complicated systems, let’s talk about its obvious “personal information” first.

Firstly, its diameter is 119,822 kilometers, making it the largest planet in the Solar System. Moreover, it’s massive, with 318 Earth masses. Additionally, the g-force on its surface is approximately 2.5 G’s. That’s the strongest g-force on the surface of any planet in the Solar System.

But, what about its location? Well, Jupiter is about 5.2 astronomical units from the Sun, meaning that its orbital period is approximately 11.86 years! However, its rotation is the fastest in the Solar System, passing one day every 9.9 hours.

Jupiter’s Magnetosphere

One of the most impressive features of the largest planet in the Solar System is its magnetic field. In fact, Jupiter’s magnetic field extends to as far as Saturn’s orbit! Also, Jupiter’s radiation belts are so strong that they can damage the electronics of space probes, even if they’re protected! That’s why the Juno spacecraft has to take a highly elliptical orbit when exploring the gigantic planet: They need to minimize the time in which the space probe is exposed to intense radiation.

The Atmosphere and Interior

Why do we combine those two in the same section? Wouldn’t a planet’s interior be intriguing enough to start another section? Well, Jupiter is a gas giant planet, so it does not have a solid surface. Subsequently, the border between its atmosphere and interior is very fuzzy. But, things happen significantly differently in the atmosphere and interior of the planet.

What is Jupiter made of? Well, its atmosphere resembles the Sun because it is on the same cloud during their formations. (Of course, Jupiter is way lighter than our star). The atmosphere is about 90% hydrogen and 10% helium.

However, hydrogen goes crazy in Jupiter’s interior. Due to the immense pressure, gaseous hydrogen condenses and becomes liquid. This is normal as pressure squeezes atoms together and will affect the melting and boiling points of a material.

But, the strange part is that hydrogen becomes metallic in those conditions. That means other than becoming a liquid that can flow, it also becomes a great conductor of heat and electricity.

The borders between the atmosphere and the interior are very unclear, right? That’s normal for any gas giant planet! However, what’s unusual is that the gray area is even wider when it comes to the borders of Jupiter’s diffuse core.

The fuzziness may be due to a planetary impact early on in the Solar System’s formation. The hypothesis says that a planet as massive as 10 Earth masses crashed into Jupiter, combining their cores to make the blurry thing we see today.

Jupiter’s Moons

Jupiter has 79 moons, just short of Saturn (which has 82 moons), making it the planet with the second-most satellites. Jupiter’s moons are so amazing and mysterious that we made an article about that.

Conclusion

So, we introduced Jupiter’s basic features, magnetosphere, atmosphere, and interior. If you want to know more, please look at the resources used in this article in the reference section below.

References and Credits

  1. Matt Williams. (2016, May 20). The Orbit of Jupiter. How Long is a Year on Jupiter? – Universe Today. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.universetoday.com/44202/how-long-does-it-take-jupiter-to-orbit-the-sun/
  2. (2020, May 28). Orbital Period Calculator | Binary System. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.omnicalculator.com/physics/orbital-period
  3. (2020, November 25). Jupiter Fact Sheet. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/jupiterfact.html
  4. (n.d.). By the Numbers | JupiterNASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/by-the-numbers/
  5. (2019, December 19). In Depth | JupiterNASA Solar System Exploration. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/planets/jupiter/in-depth/
  6. Charles Q. Choi. (2019, August 9). Jupiter: Our Solar System’s Largest Planet | Space. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.space.com/7-jupiter-largest-planet-solar-system.html
  7. (n.d.). The Outer Planets: Giant Planets: Magnetospheres. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from http://lasp.colorado.edu/outerplanets/giantplanets_magnetospheres.php
  8. (2011, August 9). A Freaky Fluid inside Jupiter? | Science Mission Directorate. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2011/09aug_juno3
  9. Katherine J. Wu. (2019, August 15). Jupiter’s ravenous past might help explain its diffuse, hazy core | NOVA | PBS. Retrieved March 22, 2021, from https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/jupiter-core-collision/

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