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What causes the highly differentiated color banding on Jupiter?

Dennis Hollingworth, Redondo Beach, California
Jupiter-striped-atmosphere
Jupiter’s striped atmosphere results from the interaction of different chemicals and varying wind patterns. NASA/JPL/Space Science Institute
Clouds and gases flowing in Jupiter’s atmosphere (and those of the other giant planets as well) create the banded patterns. The winds blow at different speeds and in different directions; the interactions of these flow patterns create the striped structure.
 
Specific chemicals create the colors, but the sources remain a mystery. Most of Jupiter’s atmosphere is hydrogen and the visible clouds are thought to be ammonia, but there are traces of other chemical compounds. Probable candidate dyes include compounds that contain sulfur or phosphine. The coloration of the bands and spots themselves changes with time, sometimes quite dramatically: In 2005, one of Jupiter’s white oval storms turned red, giving rise to the moniker “Red Spot, Jr.” In May 2010, Jupiter’s South Equatorial Belt (SEB), a dark band encircling the planet’s southern mid-latitudes, disappeared. By the end of the year, observers around the world were seeing hints of the SEB’s return. — Heidi Hammel, Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado
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