Photos of the Sun

Jupiter stains and moons. Asteroids, Jupiter and Saturn

Jupiter stains and moons. Asteroids, Jupiter and Saturn

The so-called Great Red Spot is a giant oval-shaped cyclone with nuances that vary from brick red to pink. The colors come from traces of compounds formed by ultraviolet light, storms and heat. Some of these compounds may be similar to those of organic molecules that developed on Earth as a prelude to the origin of life.

Jupiter looks like a miniature Solar System. It is accompanied by an abundant entourage of satellites. Such is the variety of worlds that are in orbit around Jupiter, some of which of decidedly planetary dimensions. Of the moons of Jupiter, only the four largest and closest, the so-called Galilean satellites, Io, Europa, Ganymede and Callisto, seem to be formed by the same fragment of protoplanetary nebula from which the major planet would leave. They travel almost circular orbits, on the equatorial plane of the planet and show a decreasing density from the innermost to the outermost: a bit like the planets with respect to the Sun.

The other moons of Jupiter, by contrast, have eccentric orbits, with inclined planes and, in some cases have retrograde motion and dimensions of the order of some tens of km. It is believed that this second type of satellites is the result of a capture of celestial bodies such as asteroids or comets by the planet. Some of the satellites also show interesting interactions with the faint ring and the powerful magnetic field around the planet.

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Aurora on JupiterThe planet Saturn
Album: Photos of the Solar System Gallery: Asteroids, Jupiter and Saturn