This was sparked by an interesting conversation in the chatroom. We were discussing how Jupiter, being made of gas, has a lot of color. Looking into it, I found this statement, from Universe Today:

Most of Jupiter is hydrogen and helium, but the top of its clouds are composed of ammonia crystals, with trace amounts of water ice and droplets, and possibly ammonium hydrosulfide.

So, there are a number of questions which result from this. The primary question is why does Jupiter have color? Secondly, if it is based off of ammonia crystals, as is indicated, why are these materials on the top of the atmosphere? It seems they should sink.


1 Answer 1


According to wikipedia:

The exact nature of chemicals that make Jovian zones and bands so colorful is not known, but they may include complicated compounds of sulfur, phosphorus and carbon.

Liquid ammonium hydrosulfide, for instance, is yellow-orange in color; besides direct coloration, even colorless gases scatter different colors of light differentially.

As for the second question, small solid crystals and droplets fall very slowly in a gaseous medium (and are lifted by updrafts); terrestrial clouds are made of ice crystals and water droplets. I imagine that ammonia crystals would be forming and precipitating in a simultaneous cycle.


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