May 19, 2024

New photos of the worst storm in the universe

Hubble observes Jupiter and other planets in the outer solar system every year as part of the Exoplanet Legacy Program (OPAL). We see that gas giant Jupiter always experiences stormy weather.

Jupiter: There is no stormier place

The giant planet is not only home to the largest storm in our solar system, the so-called Great Red Spot. All kinds of cyclones, anticyclones and wind shear make Jupiter's atmosphere unstable.

This is because the planet has no solid surface and is constantly covered in clouds of ammonia ice crystals about 30 miles (48 kilometers) thick. The depth of the atmosphere is tens of thousands of kilometers.

The planet gets its typical zonal appearance from air masses flowing in different directions at different latitudes at speeds of up to 560 kilometers per hour.

When these opposing currents meet, storms and other disturbances arise. This is also shown in the latest Hubble images. There's something going on in Jupiter's atmosphere.

Current images of Jupiter. (Source: ESA/NASA/Hubble)

Giant storms are still in their tracks

The first image shows, among other things, the Great Red Spot, which is large enough to swallow the Earth. It is clearly visible in Jupiter's atmosphere.

To the bottom right of this is an anticyclone, sometimes called Red Spot Jr. This anticyclone was the result of storms that gathered between 1998 and 2000.

The red color first appeared in 2006 and has become slightly redder again this year after some pale phases. The source of the red color is unknown.

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The involvement of sulfur, phosphorus, or organic materials seems possible. Red Spot Jr. moves. In the opposite direction to the Great Red Spot. They both meet approximately every two years. Another small red anticyclone appears farther north.

Also behind: storms as far as Hubble can see

The second image from Jupiter's far side also shows stormy activity. A pair of storms, a deep red tornado and a red antistorm, appear side by side to the right of center.

These storms rotate in opposite directions, indicating an alternating pattern of high and low pressure areas. Researchers at NASA assume that these storms will pass each other because they repel each other due to their opposite clockwise and counterclockwise rotation.

The innermost Galilean moon Io can be seen at the left edge of the image. Although small in size, only slightly larger than Earth's moon, Io is the most volcanically active body in the entire solar system.

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