Jupiter’s “Red Spot” shrinking dramatically

Jupiter’s “Red Spot” shrinking dramatically



Ju­pi­ter’s trade­mark Great Red Spot—a swirling storm fea­ture larg­er than Earth—has shrunk to its small­est size ev­er meas­ured, as­tro­no­mers re­port.

The rea­sons for the shrink­age is un­known, but it’s ac­cel­er­at­ing, as­tro­no­mers said. If it con­tin­ues at re­cently meas­ured rates, the fa­mous blotch will be gone by about 2030.

If Earth’s sur­face were spread out like an or­ange peel, about one and a half of those would fit with­in the Red Spot to­day. But in 1979, that num­ber was over three­—and back in Vic­to­ri­an days, it was es­ti­mat­ed around 10.

Re­cent NASA Hub­ble Space Tel­e­scope ob­serva­t­ions show the plan­et­ary pim­ple is about 10,250 miles (16,500 km) wide, said Amy Si­mon of NASA’s God­dard Space Flight Cen­ter in Green­belt, Md.

Ob­serva­t­ions as far back as the late 1800s gauged the Red Spot to be as big as 25,500 miles (41,000 km) on its long end. And NASA’s Voy­ag­er 1 and Voy­ag­er 2 fly­bys of Ju­pi­ter in 1979 meas­ured the storm as 14,500 miles (23,300 km) across.

Be­gin­ning in 2012, am­a­teur ob­serva­t­ions re­vealed a no­tice­a­ble ac­celera­t­ion in the shrink­age—to 580 miles (930 km) per year—chang­ing its shape from an oval to a cir­cle, as­tro­no­mers said.

“It is ap­par­ent that very small ed­dies are feed­ing in­to the stor­m” on the gas-gi­ant plan­et, said Si­mon. “These may be re­spon­si­ble for the ac­cel­er­ated change” by alter­ing the storm’s in­ter­nal dy­nam­ics and en­er­gy. Her team plans to study the ed­dies’ mo­tions and the in­ter­nal storm dy­nam­ics to de­ter­mine wheth­er the ed­dies can feed or sap mo­men­tum en­ter­ing the up­welling vor­tex, caus­ing the shrink­age.

Source : http://www.world-science.net/


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