This is an infrared image of Jupiter showing regions which are hot.
Click on image for full size
The Source of Heat from Within Saturn
The energy that Jupiter and Saturn make has been found be very high.
There are several ways in which astronomical objects make energy from inside. The first is by thermonuclear fusion, the way a star makes energy. Another method is by radioactive material within the ground, the way a planet makes energy.
For the giant planets, the method which seems to be at work is the mere fact that energy is given off from when a planet is in the process of shrinking together, or collapsing on itself.
The fact that Saturn is still collapsing together indicates that the process of planet formation is still going on. This process is providing the heat from within which causes the unusual motions in the atmosphere.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
Titan is similar to the other icy moons, but Titan is the only icy moon to have a big atmosphere. It is natural to ask how is this possible? The nebula was colder near Saturn, than near Jupiter. The nebula...more
The Giant planets do not have the same layered structure that the terrestrial planets do. Their evolution was quite different than that of the terrestrial planets, and they have less solid material. Saturn's...more
Astronomers have discovered a strange shape in Saturn's atmosphere. The shape is a hexagon. The hexagon is near Saturn's North Pole. Scientists aren't quite sure why Saturn has the hexagon shape in its...more
The first liquid layer inside Saturn, right under the atmosphere, is the liquid hydrogen layer. The hydrogen atmosphere becomes thicker and thicker, like a dense fog, with more and more liquid droplets,...more
There is no surface to the giant planets, only a gradual change from the atmosphere, as shown in this drawing. The gases which Saturn is mostly made of change to liquid inside Saturn, but the change is...more
The most important motions in the atmosphere are winds. The major winds in Saturn's atmosphere are the zonal winds which are made of zones and belts. Zones are high pressure systems and belts are low pressure...more
The striped cloud bands on Saturn, like Jupiter, are divided into belts and zones. In a belt, the wind flows very strongly in one direction only. In a zone, the wind flows very strongly in exactly the...more