Juno arrives – time to explore Jupiter’s fractals

Today, after a 5 year journey the Juno-probe arrives at Jupiter.
If you ever wondered why the gas-giant’s surface looks the way it does, with all its whirls and twirls and the famous big red spot – fractals are the answer.

It’s quite well known that the turbulences in our atmosphere, responsible for our weather and climate show fractal patterns. But this phenomenon is not limited to earth.

Here’s original footage of Jupiter from NASA:

And here’s a simple simulation of fluid dynamics, showing fractal patterns on many scales, nearly identical with the turbulences we observe on jupiter:

What is fractal about Jupiter?

In this interview Professor Philippe Lavoie (UTIAS) explains how turbulence is basically a fractal process:

About 10 years ago, researchers started examining something called fractal turbulence. They would pass a fluid flow through a fractal object, such as a grid, so that it forces the turbulence at different scales. They can then see how it’s affected.

The results of these experiments did not behave as we would have expected…. it questioned some of the basic principles of turbulence theory.
We conclusively showed that fractal turbulence was behaving the same way as classical turbulence, which has not been shown before.

Although fractal turbulence has some different features, it’s not fundamentally different. This evidence settled a long debate, as it demonstrated that our understanding of turbulence does not need to be fundamentally altered.

If creating turbulences with the help of a fractal object doesn’t change the actual turbulence we can conclude that it also is a fractal process when ‘regular’ objects cause the turbulence.

Also, the magnetic field of Jupter can be described using multifractal laws.

More resources about fractal turbulences, also in earths atmosphere.

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