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Vorticity and divergence at scales down to 200 km within and around the polar cyclones of Jupiter

Ingersoll, Andrew P. and Ewald, Shawn P. and Tosi, Federico and Adriani, Alberto and Mura, Alessandro and Grassi, Davide and Plainaki, Christina and Sindoni, Giuseppe and Li, Cheng and Siegelman, Lia and Klein, Patrice and Young, William R. (2022) Vorticity and divergence at scales down to 200 km within and around the polar cyclones of Jupiter. Nature Astronomy, 6 (11). pp. 1280-1286. ISSN 2397-3366. doi:10.1038/s41550-022-01774-0.

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Since 2017 the Juno spacecraft has observed a cyclone at the north pole of Jupiter surrounded by eight smaller cyclones arranged in a polygonal pattern. It is not clear why this configuration is so stable or how it is maintained. Here we use a time series of images obtained by the JIRAM mapping spectrometer on Juno to track the winds and measure the vorticity and horizontal divergence within and around the polar cyclone and two of the circumpolar ones. We find an anticyclonic ring between the polar cyclone and the surrounding cyclones, supporting the theory that such shielding is needed for the stability of the polygonal pattern. However, even at the smallest spatial scale (180 km) we do not find the expected signature of convection—a spatial correlation between divergence and anticyclonic vorticity—in contrast with a previous study using additional assumptions about the dynamics, which shows the correlation at scales from 20 to 200 km. We suggest that a smaller size, relative to atmospheric thickness, of Jupiter’s convective storms compared with Earth’s, can reconcile the two studies.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription ReadCube access
Ingersoll, Andrew P.0000-0002-2035-9198
Ewald, Shawn P.0000-0002-1567-9154
Tosi, Federico0000-0003-4002-2434
Adriani, Alberto0000-0003-4998-8008
Mura, Alessandro0000-0002-4552-4292
Grassi, Davide0000-0003-1653-3066
Plainaki, Christina0000-0003-1483-5052
Sindoni, Giuseppe0000-0002-3348-7930
Li, Cheng0000-0002-8280-3119
Siegelman, Lia0000-0003-3330-082X
Klein, Patrice0000-0002-3089-3896
Young, William R.0000-0002-1842-3197
Alternate Title:Polygonal patterns of Jupiter's cyclones: Vorticity, divergence and shielding
Additional Information:This research was carried out at the California Institute of Technology under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), grant/cooperative agreement number 80NSSC20K0555, which was awarded to A.P.I., and a contract with the Juno mission, which is administered for NASA by the Southwest Research Institute. C.L. was supported by the 51 peg-b Postdoctoral Fellowship. JIRAM was supported by the Italian Space Agency through ASI‐INAF agreement numbers I/010/10/0, 2014‐050‐R.0, 2016-23-H.0 and 2016-1495 f23-H.1-2018. A.A., A.M., D.G. and F.T. were supported by INAF. C.P. and G.S. were supported by ASI. L.S. is funded by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Postdoctoral Fellowship. P.K. acknowledges funding from JPL/NASA. Contributions. A.P.I. led the research and wrote the document. S.P.E. conducted the data analysis and prepared the figures. F.T. prepared the geometric tables that were used in the analysis. A.A., A.M., D.G., C.P. and G.S. oversaw the successful functioning of the JIRAM instrument and provided expertise on using it for image processing. C.L., L.S., P.K. and W.R.Y. provided expertise on vortices. Data availability. JIRAM data are available online at the Planetary Data System (PDS) at The filenames of the images are listed in Supplementary Table 1. Calibrated, geometrically controlled radiance data mapped onto an orthographic projection centred on the north pole and velocity vectors derived from the radiance data are available in Supplementary Data 1–2. The authors declare no competing interests.
Group:Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Southwest Research InstituteUNSPECIFIED
Heising-Simons Foundation51 Pegasi b Fellowship
Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)I/010/10/0
Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)2014 050 R.0
Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)2016-23-H.0
Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (ASI)2016-1495 f23-H.1-2018
Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica (INAF)UNSPECIFIED
Scripps Institution of OceanographyUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20230215-694122000.1
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:119295
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:15 Feb 2023 20:35
Last Modified:15 Feb 2023 20:35

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