Stunning Photos Show A New ‘Red Spot’ Is Developing On Jupiter
Space has been having a pretty great week so far, hasn’t it?
First, a giant planet was found orbiting a dead star for the first time, then signs of alien life were inexplicably detected on Venus. Oh, and let’s not forget NASA then announcing it was considering launching missions to the planet in the wake of the revelation.
Now, the NASA Hubble telescope has captured a stunning image of Jupiter, in which the formation of a storm can be seen in the planet’s northern hemisphere that could one day rival the ‘Great Red Spot’.
This latest image of the planet was taken on August 25 this year when Jupiter was approximately 653 million kilometres from Earth. The telescope captured two images, one using visible wavelengths of light to create a classical look at Jupiter, and another that combined various wavelengths – including ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared.
Scientists say the new storm that can be seen brewing in the north appears different to others in the region, as it has more structure and could be forming into a permanent feature. It is described as a ‘bright, white, stretched-out storm moving at 560 kilometres per hour’ at mid-northern latitudes.
‘Researchers speculate this may be the beginning of a longer-lasting northern hemisphere spot, perhaps to rival the legendary Great Red Spot that dominates the southern hemisphere,’ NASA said in a statement.
The Great Red Spot now measures approximately 15,800 kilometres across, and is big enough to swallow the Earth, scientists say.
However, the storm is currently shrinking and has been since around 1930 – although its rate of shrinkage does appear to have slowed. ‘The reason for its dwindling size is a complete mystery,’ NASA said.
Researchers also noted that another feature has changed; Red Spot Jr., which appears just below the Great Red Spot and goes by the name ‘Oval BA’, looks to be changing colour.
Although for the past few years the Oval BA has been fading in colour to its original shade of white after appearing red in 2006, the core of the storm now appears to be darkening to a reddish hue.
The sharp view of the Hubble telescope is giving NASA researchers an updated weather report on the giant planet’s turbulent atmosphere, and as well as documenting the remarkable new storm brewing, the new image also features Jupiter’s icy moon Europa.
Basically, the photos were incredible and just go to show us how small we really are in comparison to the whole universe.
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CreditsHubble Space Telescope
Hubble Space Telescope