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Jupiter Drives Its Own Turbulent Weather

Jupiter, the gaint planet that may hold clues about the evolution of the solar system, has storms similar to earth's but fuels them from inside itself, not from the sun, scientists have said.

In a report in the Nature, astronomers said Jupiter's voilent weather is caused by heat that has been emanating from its core since the planet formed five billion years ago, not hear from the summer sun that powers storms on earth.

"There is a lot of activity we see on Jupiter that we see on earth," said Peter Gierasch, the lead author of the study.

"We see jet streams, large cyclonic elements....And many elements of unpredictability and turbulence," the professor of astronomy at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, added.

Because Jupiter contains many of the same gases as the sun and its atmosphere has changed less than any other planet's, scientists hope that more knowledge of the far-away world will provide more informationabout how the solar system was formed. Gierasch and scientists at the California Institute of Technology and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used images taken by Nasa's Galileo spacecraft when it orbited Jupiter last May to study two large storms on the planet.

The astronomers said a reservoir of highly compressed hydrogen in its centre allows the gaseous planet to emit nearly 70 per cent more heat then it absorbs from the sun.

"It is in the process of cooling, and it will likely continue to cool for at least another five billion years, " Gierasch added.

In a separate report in Nature, Andrew Ingersoll and researchers from the California Institute of Technology added evidence about Jupiter's weather system by showing that eddies fuel the eastward and westward jets that encircle the planet.

"The two new papers represent a notable advance inour knowledge of Jupiter's weather," Alvin Seiff, of the San Jose State University Foundation and AMES Research Centre in California, said in a commentary in Nature.

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