James Webb Space Telescope discovers Jupiter has a jet stream whipping around the planet at 320 mph, twice as fast as Earth's fiercest hurricanes

  • NASA scientists were surprised to discover a high-speed jet stream near Jupiter's equator.

  • The 3,000-mile-wide band of wind is moving at 320 miles per hour, according to NASA.

  • Previous telescopes couldn't see Jupiter's atmosphere in such detail so they missed the fierce winds.

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has helped scientists discover that Jupiter has a thin jetstream whipping around the planet at 320 miles per hour — twice as fast as Earth's strongest hurricanes.

The JWST's predecessor, Hubble, was not strong enough to clearly capture images of the hazier parts of Jupiter's atmosphere, NASA said in a press release detailing its findings. But now thanks to the power of the JWST, scientists can not only view a never-before-seen atmospheric jet stream but also detect just how fast it's moving.

The 3,000-mile-wide high-speed jet stream, which sits near Jupiter's equator and above its primary cloud range, is moving around the gassy planet at 320 miles per hour, according to NASA.

"This is something that totally surprised us," Ricardo Hueso, a lead author on the paper describing NASA's findings, said in the press release. "What we have always seen as blurred hazes in Jupiter's atmosphere now appear as crisp features that we can track along with the planet's fast rotation."

The jet stream's speed is twice as fast as the strongest Category 5 hurricanes on Earth.

The JWST was only able to detect the jet stream when it looked at a particular band of infrared light, which revealed changes in atmospheric features at varying altitudes. By comparing the speeds of high-altitude winds with the speeds of those at lower altitudes, NASA said its team was able to measure how altitude affects the speed of the planet's winds.

The find is the latest by the powerful new James Webb telescope since it began operations about a year ago and started spotting hidden details in the sky.

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