Abstract

Jupiter’s atmosphere is rotating differentially, with zones and belts rotating at speeds that differ by up to 100 metres per second. Whether this is also true of the gas giant’s interior has been unknown1,2, limiting our ability to probe the structure and composition of the planet3,4. The discovery by the Juno spacecraft that Jupiter’s gravity field is north–south asymmetric5 and the determination of its non-zero odd gravitational harmonics J3, J5, J7 and J9 demonstrates that the observed zonal cloud flow must persist to a depth of about 3,000 kilometres from the cloud tops6. Here we report an analysis of Jupiter’s even gravitational harmonics J4, J6, J8 and J10 as observed by Juno5 and compared to the predictions of interior models. We find that the deep interior of the planet rotates nearly as a rigid body, with differential rotation decreasing by at least an order of magnitude compared to the atmosphere. Moreover, we find that the atmospheric zonal flow extends to more than 2,000 kilometres and to less than 3,500 kilometres, making it fully consistent with the constraints obtained independently from the odd gravitational harmonics. This depth corresponds to the point at which the electric conductivity becomes large and magnetic drag should suppress differential rotation7. Given that electric conductivity is dependent on planetary mass, we expect the outer, differentially rotating region to be at least three times deeper in Saturn and to be shallower in massive giant planets and brown dwarfs.

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Acknowledgements

This research was carried out at the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur under the sponsorship of the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales; at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA; by the Southwest Research Institute under contract with NASA; and at the Weizmann Institute of Science under contract with the Israeli Space Agency. Computations were performed on the ‘Mesocentre SIGAMM’ machine, hosted by the Observatoire de la Côte d’Azur.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Université Côte d’Azur, OCA, Lagrange CNRS, 06304 Nice, France

    • T. Guillot
    • , Y. Miguel
    •  & A. Biekman
  2. Leiden Observatory, University of Leiden, Niels Bohrweg 2, 2333CA Leiden, The Netherlands

    • Y. Miguel
  3. University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • B. Militzer
    •  & S. M. Wahl
  4. Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

    • W. B. Hubbard
  5. Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel

    • Y. Kaspi
    •  & E. Galanti
  6. California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • H. Cao
    •  & D. J. Stevenson
  7. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • H. Cao
  8. University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

    • R. Helled
  9. Sapienza Università di Roma, 00184 Rome, Italy

    • L. Iess
    •  & D. Durante
  10. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91109, USA

    • W. M. Folkner
    • , M. Parisi
    •  & S. M. Levin
  11. Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

    • J. I. Lunine
  12. LESIA, Observatoire de Paris, PSL Research University, CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, UPMC Université Paris 06, Université Paris Diderot, Sorbonne Paris Cité, 92195 Meudon, France

    • D. R. Reese
  13. NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland, USA

    • J. E. P. Connerney
  14. Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas, USA

    • S. J. Bolton

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Contributions

T.G., Y.M. and B.M. ran interior models of Jupiter and carried out the analysis. W.B.H. and A.B. compared gravitational harmonics obtained by different methods. E.G. and Y.K. calculated the offset introduced by differential rotation. H.C., R.H., D.J.S. and J.I.L. provided theoretical support. S.M.W. provided additional interior models of Jupiter. D.R.R. provided a routine to calculate high-order gravitational harmonics efficiently. W.M.F., M.P. and D.D. carried out the analysis of the Juno gravity data. J.E.P.C., S.M.L. and S.J.B. supervised the planning, execution and definition of the Juno gravity experiment.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to T. Guillot.

Reviewer Information Nature thanks J. Fortney and N. Nettelmann for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature25775

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