Abstract

The depth to which Jupiter’s observed east–west jet streams extend has been a long-standing question1,2. Resolving this puzzle has been a primary goal for the Juno spacecraft3,4, which has been in orbit around the gas giant since July 2016. Juno’s gravitational measurements have revealed that Jupiter’s gravitational field is north–south asymmetric5, which is a signature of the planet’s atmospheric and interior flows6. Here we report that the measured odd gravitational harmonics J3, J5, J7 and J9 indicate that the observed jet streams, as they appear at the cloud level, extend down to depths of thousands of kilometres beneath the cloud level, probably to the region of magnetic dissipation at a depth of about 3,000  kilometres7,8. By inverting the measured gravity values into a wind field9, we calculate the most likely vertical profile of the deep atmospheric and interior flow, and the latitudinal dependence of its depth. Furthermore, the even gravity harmonics J8 and J10 resulting from this flow profile also match the measurements, when taking into account the contribution of the interior structure10. These results indicate that the mass of the dynamical atmosphere is about one per cent of Jupiter’s total mass.

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Acknowledgements

We thank M. Allison and A. Showman for discussions. The research described here was carried out in part at the Weizmann Institute of Science (WIS) under the sponsorship of the Israeli Space Agency, the Helen Kimmel Center for Planetary Science at the WIS and the WIS Center for Scientific Excellence (Y.K. and E.G.); at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA (W.M.F., M.P. and S.M.L.); at the Southwest Research Institute under contract with NASA (S.J.B.); at the Université Côte d’Azur under the sponsorship of Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (T.G. and Y.M.); and at La Sapienza University under contract with Agenzia Spaziale Italiana (L.I. and D.D.). All authors acknowledge support from the Juno project.

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel

    • Y. Kaspi
    •  & E. Galanti
  2. Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA

    • W. B. Hubbard
  3. Divison of Geological and Planetary Sciences, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91125, USA

    • D. J. Stevenson
    • , H. Cao
    •  & A. P. Ingersoll
  4. Southwest Research Institute, San Antonio, Texas 78238, USA

    • S. J. Bolton
  5. Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Sapienza Universita di Roma, 00184 Rome, Italy

    • L. Iess
    •  & D. Durante
  6. Université Côte d’Azur, OCA, Lagrange CNRS, 06304 Nice, France

    • T. Guillot
    •  & Y. Miguel
  7. Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138, USA

    • J. Bloxham
    •  & H. Cao
  8. Space Research Corporation, Annapolis, Maryland 21403, USA

    • J. E. P. Connerney
  9. NASA/GSFC, Greenbelt, Maryland 20771, USA

    • J. E. P. Connerney
  10. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California 91109, USA

    • W. M. Folkner
    • , S. M. Levin
    •  & M. Parisi
  11. Institute for Computational Science, Center for Theoretical Astrophysics and Cosmology, University of Zurich, 8057 Zurich, Switzerland

    • R. Helled
  12. Department of Astronomy, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA

    • J. I. Lunine
  13. Leiden Observatory, University of Leiden, Leiden, The Netherlands

    • Y. Miguel
  14. Department of Earth and Planetray Science, University of California, Berkeley, California 94720, USA

    • B. Militzer
    •  & S. M. Wahl

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Contributions

Y.K. and E.G. designed the study. Y.K. wrote the paper. E.G. developed the gravity inversion model. D.J.S. led the working group within the Juno Science Team and provided theoretical support. W.B.H. initiated the Juno gravity experiment and provided theoretical support. W.B.H., T.G., Y.M., R.H., B.M. and S.L.W. provided interior models and tested the implications of the results. L.I., D.D., W.M.F. and M.P. carried out the analysis of the Juno gravity data. H.C., D.J.S. and J.B. supported the interpretation regarding the magnetic field. J.I.L. and A.P.I. provided theoretical support. S.J.B., S.M.L. and J.E.P.C. supervised the planning, execution and definition of the Juno gravity experiment. All authors contributed to the discussion and interpretation of the results within the Juno Interiors Working Group.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Y. Kaspi.

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

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

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https://doi.org/10.1038/nature25793

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