The Juno spacecraft in orbit around Jupiter’s poles continues to send back jaw-dropping views of the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, including this down-the-throat look into a 2,000-kilometre-wide (1,200 miles) cyclonic storm at 49 degrees north latitude. Jupiter is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium, but some of the colour in the clouds seen here may be the result of sulphur and phosphorus gases rising from the warmer interior. Citizen-scientist Kevin M. Gill processed this image, captured by the Junocam instrument on 3 November at an altitude of about 8,500 kilometres (5,300 miles) during Juno’s 23rd close flyby.
Researchers at Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) and Queen’s University in Canada have unravelled the mystery of how Jupiter and Saturn likely formed using computer simulations. The discovery, which changes our view of how all planets might have formed, also suggests that the gas giants in the solar system probably formed before the terrestrial planets.
The impact of a small comet or asteroid on Jupiter observed by European amateur astronomers on 17 March has heightened interest in the solar system’s largest planet. While such an event is uncommon, Jupiter and its family of four bright Galilean moons provide a wealth of other interesting phenomena to view with small telescopes during April.