This image of Jupiter's white ovals BC and DE was taken by the Galileo spacecraft
Click on image for full size
White Oval Trains
Like sailboats in the ocean, the white ovals very slowly drift eastward faster than rest of the clouds nearby. Since their birth
, the ovals have changed both their appearance
, and the speed at which they drift to the east.
Oval FA drifted the fastest, and by 1987 was on the other side of Jupiter from where they were born. Oval BC is next eastward-most oval. Oval BC is also the biggest of the classic ovals. Oval BC and oval DE drift at different speeds, thus one might expect that they might run into each other. It seems however that for 60 years, BC and DE have had close encounters, coming to within 18 degrees of each other, but repel each other when they get too close. One will speed up, or the other will slow down so that they always stayed apart.
Other white ovals nearby are slightly to the south of these three. Since BC is the largest of the ovals it seems to hog the space in the zone, and not allow the other white ovals, WO1, WO2, and DE to get by. This creates a train of white ovals trailing along behind oval BC. The picture shows a train of white ovals with BC at the eastward-most.
In 1998, BC and DE had their final close encounter and merged to form a new oval called BE.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Learn about Earth and space science, and have fun while doing it! The games
section of our online store
includes a climate change card game
and the Traveling Nitrogen game
You might also be interested in:
The striped cloud bands on Jupiter are certainly not as straight as they appear to be in this picture! The picture shows that the striped pattern is divided into belts and zones. The belts and zones of...more
The giant planets have definitely changed since their formation. But how much remains to be seen. Most of the original air of the giant planets remains in place. (The earth-like planets lost most of their...more
The mesosphere of Jupiter is a region of balance between warming and cooling. That essentially means that nothing happens there. Except for diffusion, the atmosphere is still. Upper reaches of the atmosphere,...more
As on Earth, the atmosphere of Jupiter consists of a troposphere, stratosphere, mesosphere, and thermosphere. The troposphere is the region where the visible clouds are to be found. The stratosphere, as...more
The stratosphere of Jupiter is a region of warming as determined by infrared measurements of methane (CH4) in the region. Like the troposphere, the stratosphere is warmed by the sun, warmed by Jupiter's...more
The troposphere of Jupiter is where the clouds are. Clouds form in regions of strong atmospheric motion, when condensation takes place. The troposphere is the region rapidly stirred by vertical motions....more
On Jupiter, the winds in the belts and zones blow first in one direction, then in the opposite direction. Wind blows east in a belt, and west in a zone. The clouds rise up in a belt, and drop down in a...more