Jupiter's mysterious red storm shrinks after 300 years of rage

The large red patch, a storm larger than the Earth and powerful enough to separate small storms that carry it, is one of the most recognizable features of Jupiter's atmosphere and the Whole solar system.

The anticyclone, this storm moving counter-clockwise, offers wind speeds of up to 500 km / h. This important element, observed since 1830 and perhaps as early as the 1660s, has long attracted great fascination and scientific studies.

Much of the big red spot is still unknown, including exactly when and how it formed, giving it its bright red color and why it persists longer than any other storms seen in the world. Atmosphere of Jupiter.

However, astronomers believe that its position in latitude, regularly observed at 22 degrees south of the equator of Jupiter, is related to the prominent cloud bands of Jupiter 's atmosphere.

As a planetary astronomer studying the atmosphere of comets, I do not normally investigate massive storms.

But I still want to know the characteristics observed in the atmosphere of other solar system bodies, including Jupiter. The study of atmospheres of all kinds deepens our understanding of how they form and function.

Unlike Jupiter, the Earth has continental masses that cause energy loss from major storms due to friction with a solid surface. Without this feature, Jupiter's storms last longer.

However, the big red spot has a long life, even by Jupiter standards. Researchers do not quite understand why, but we know that Jupiter storms in cloudy bands with the same direction of rotation tend to last longer.

These alternating colored bands, called belts (dark bands) and zones (light bands), are parallel to the equator of Jupiter.

The researchers do not really know what causes the coloration of the bands and areas, but differences in the chemical composition, temperature and transparency of the atmosphere to light have been suggested as contributing factors.

These bands are also in reverse rotation, which means that they are moving in opposite directions relative to their neighbors. The boundaries between the bands and areas are marked by strong winds called zonal jets.

The Great Red Spot is confined by a jet facing east to the north and by a jet facing west to south, thus limiting the storm to a constant latitude.

However, the longitude of the large red patch has changed significantly over time, and recent evidence suggests that its longitudinal rate of movement to the west is increasing.

As with the large red spot, the bands changed little in the period during which they were observed. The researchers do not quite understand the band structure, but we have evidence suggesting that light-colored areas are areas of rising materials and dark belts are regions of materials that sink into the body. 39; atmosphere.

On Earth, there is a well-defined boundary between the atmosphere and the surface of the planet, which is largely covered with liquid water. However, there are no large oceans of water known as Jupiter Clouds.

According to the researchers' knowledge, the atmosphere is gradually turning into an interior of liquid hydrogen in the interior of the planet.

Jupiter may have a solid nucleus, but it is most likely buried very deep under a thick layer of liquid metallic hydrogen, a form of hydrogen serving as an electrical conductor.

What do we know more about the big red spot that changes dramatically? Its size, shape and color.

An analysis of the historical and recently obtained data on the large red spot showed that it was narrowing and becoming both rounder and higher and that its color also varied over time.

What motivates these changes and what do they mean for the future of the Great Red Spot? The researchers are not sure.

However, NASA's Juno spacecraft currently in orbit around Jupiter is collecting more data on cloud bands and the Great Red Spot. These new data will probably better understand many of the features of Jupiter 's atmosphere.The conversation

Donna Pierce, Associate Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Mississippi State University.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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