Neptune holds records in our Solar System, but the Universe gets even faster.
Here on Earth, extreme weather events can cause dramatic wind speed spikes.
Hurricane Ida, driven by warm ocean waters and terrestrial wind patterns, reached sustained winds of ~155 miles-per-hour.
Its maximum gusts, at ~168 mph, are outdone by Earth’s fastest hurricanes and tornadoes.
1999’s Oklahoma City tornado reached gusts of 302 mph: the highest ever terrestrially recorded.
But Earth’s wind speeds aren’t the Solar System’s highest.
Venus has a thicker, hotter atmosphere than Earth, but wind speeds peak at ~250 mph.
Martian winds rarely exceed ~60 mph, but on Titan, they peak at ~270 mph, reached in its uppermost atmosphere.
Still, gas giants possess even faster planetary winds.
Although Jupiter’s “spots” are hurricane-like, the fastest winds are at the poles: approaching ~900 mph.
Saturn’s peak winds are even faster, with equatorial upper atmosphere speeds of ~1100 mph.
Sustained wind speeds are even higher at extraordinary altitudes on Uranus and Neptune.
Despite receiving the least solar energy, Neptune’s upper atmosphere’s winds reach ~1600 mph.
The fastest winds, however, don’t occur on cold giants.
The observed record? A “hot Jupiter” exoplanet: HD 189733b.
With wind speeds exceeding 5000 mph, the fastest planetary winds lie on planets not present in our Solar System.
Mostly Mute Monday tells an astronomical story in images, visuals, and no more than 200 words. Talk less; smile more.
Starts With A Bang is written by Ethan Siegel, Ph.D., author of Beyond The Galaxy, and Treknology: The Science of Star Trek from Tricorders to Warp Drive.