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Jupiter and Earth compared; Great Red Spot; gas giant; jovian planet; oblate spheroid - Space Art Illustration
 

Jupiter and Earth compared

  • Jupiter's diameter is over ten times greater than the Earth's

  • It has over 300 times the mass

  • If you weigh 180 pounds on Earth, you would weigh 426 pounds at Jupiter's cloud tops

  • Jupiter is five times further from the Sun than the Earth

Jupiter is so large that its famous Great Red Spot (actually a giant, hurricane-like storm that's at least 400 years old) would easily swallow the Earth. Jupiter spins so fast on its axis that it bulges noticeably at its equator (a day on Jupiter is about ten hours long). 

Could Jupiter have been a star?

Despite having more than twice the mass of all the other planets in the Solar System combined, Jupiter still comes nowhere near being massive enough to initiate the hydrogen fusion required to shine like the Sun. It would take the combined masses of 80 Jupiters before such an object became a star in its own right.

On the other hand, Jupiter does radiate more energy than it receives from the Sun, but this energy comes from a gravitational process that is slowly causing Jupiter to shrink and release heat.

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Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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