Want to stay on top of all the space news? Follow @universetoday on Twitter
Jupiter rotates on its axis every 9.9 hours. Its rotational speed flattens it into an oblate spheroid, like the other planets in our Solar System. That shapes means that there are two answers for the radius of Jupiter. The equatorial radius of Jupiter is 71,492 km, while its polar radius is 66,854 km. The equatorial radius of Jupiter is 11.2 times larger than Earth’s. While we are discussing one of the physical characteristics of Jupiter, let’s discuss a few more. Below is a chart with a few of the Jovian aspects.
|Mass||1.8981 x 1027 kg|
|Surface Area||6.1419 x 1010 km2|
|Orbit Velocity||47,002 km/h|
|Mean Circumference||4.39264 x 105 km|
|Average Temperature||-148 °C|
Basic physical characteristics are nice to have for reports. Below are a few interesting facts related to Jupiter, and the Jovian system in general, that may titillate you.
Jupiter’s moon Ganymede is the largest moon in our Solar System. It has a radius of 2634.1 km. It’s radius is larger than the planet Mercury’s by 194.4 km. It is also the only moon in our Solar System that is known to have its own magnetic field.(as of September 2011)
Jupiter has a violent atmosphere. Here on Earth, we are amazed by winds that reach 160 kph. On Jupiter winds have been recorded in the 620 kph range. These winds combined with convection from the planet’s core cause tremendous storms. One storm, called the Great Red Spot, was first observed in the late 1600s and is still raging. At one time the storm was over 40,000 km in diameter.
Jupiter’s low density tells scientists that is mainly made of various gases. They think that the planet may have a core that is mostly molten hydrogen with a small amount of rocky components. The nature of our current understanding of the formation of planets demands that Jupiter had a rocky core at one time, but allows for it to have been conveyed into the atmosphere by convection. That leaves open the possibility that Jupiter does not have an actual solid core at this time.
As you can see, discovering the radius of Jupiter can lead to many other new and fascinating bits of information. Hopefully, you will delve deeper into the Jovian system.
We have recorded a podcast just about Jupiter for Astronomy Cast. Click here and listen to Episode 56: Jupiter.