Hubble discovers mysterious changes in the Great Red Spot on the...

Hubble, NASA’s most powerful space telescope, has documented a mysterious change in Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.

The patch is a raging cyclone 10,000 miles wide, large enough to swallow the Earth.

Hubble discovers mysterious changes in the Great Red Spot on the largest planet in the solar system

Hubble discovers mysterious changes in the Great Red Spot on the largest planet in the solar system

NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstadt/Justin Cowart

Since astronomers began observing it about 150 years ago, the hurricane has been shrinking and becoming more circular. But no one could track the speed of its spiral motion until Hubble turned its eye to the distant orange dot in 2009.

Hubble discovers mysterious changes in the Great Red Spot on the largest planet in the solar system

NASA, ESA, Michael H. Wong (UC Berkeley)

Average wind speed increases within the Great Red Spot boundary (outer green circle), while winds in the inner region (inner green circle) move more slowly.

Planetary scientists Michael Wong and Amy Simon recently analyzed decade-old Hubble data on wind speeds in the Great Red Spot, which can exceed 400 miles per hour.

On Monday, September 27, NASA announced that its research indicates that the outer zone of the hurricane is accelerating: wind speeds increased by 8% from 2009 to 2020. Meanwhile, the inner zone has slowed significantly.

Wong, who works at the University of California, Berkeley, said in a press release: “When I first saw the results I asked, ‘Does this make sense?’ No one’s seen this before. But it’s something only Hubble can do. Hubble’s long life and constant monitoring makes this detection is possible.

In general, the average wind speed in the spot is increasing, although it is very little, less than 1.6 miles per hour per year on Earth. And no one yet knows what the changing winds tell us about the storm in general.

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“It’s hard to diagnose, because Hubble can’t see the bottom of the storm very well,” Wong said. “Anything under the cloud tops isn’t visible in the data. But it’s an interesting piece of data that can help us understand what fuels the Great Red Spot and how it conserves energy.”

Wong, Simon and other researchers published their findings for the first time in Geophysical Research Letters last month.

The Great Red Spot Mystery

Researchers still don’t understand much about the Great Red Spot, including how long it would last. The storm held out for so long because it’s trapped between two jet streams, two bands of Jupiter’s atmosphere, moving in different directions. These “feed the momentum into the vortex,” NASA scientist Glenn Orton previously told Business Insider.

Some scientists have suggested that the storm will collapse and disappear within a few decades due to its shrinkage in size. While others disagree about that. “The Great Red Spot is not in the works,” argued Philip Marcus, a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley who co-authored the new study with Wong and Simon.

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“To understand the patch’s health, planetary scientists need to study the health of its vortex, not its clouds,” Marcus wrote on Astronomy.com in 2019. “A shrinking cloud is not a harbinger of death.” “With other eddies my group has found in Berkeley, there is no evidence that this same vortex changed its size or intensity,” he continued.

Meanwhile, other data also reveals surprises, including that the Great Red Spot is getting higher as it shrinks.

Then last year, images from Hubble and the Gemini Earth-based observatory revealed holes in the hurricane’s cloud cover. The scientists also used these images, along with data from NASA’s Jupiter-orbiting Juno spacecraft, to map lightning strikes within the Great Red Spot.

“Because we now routinely have these high-resolution views from different observatories and wavelengths, we’re learning a lot about Jupiter’s weather. That’s the equivalent of a weather satellite,” Simon said in a NASA statement about the discovery last year. the weather”.

Source: Business Insider

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