Photo: Hubble Telescope Tracks Neptune’s Peculiar ‘Dark Spot Jr.’ as Larger Storm Puzzles Scientists

The Hubble Space Telescope has been NASA’s solely technique to research the small print of our photo voltaic system’s outermost planet for the reason that Voyager 2 probe whisked by it in 1989. Neptune’s mysterious “dark spot” storms, discovered to return and go in a few years, have up to now defied rationalization.

According to a brand new report by NASA, Neptune’s newest large storm has engaged in some sudden conduct in the previous few months, dodging what scientists believed to be a sure demise within the gassy planet’s equatorial zone and spawning a smaller storm within the course of.

When Voyager 2 photographed Neptune for the primary time in 1989, it revealed a big, whirling storm within the blue planet’s southern hemisphere that NASA astronomers initially believed analogous to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, which has been whirling at the least since Giovanni Cassini pointed a telescope at it greater than 350 years in the past. However, that proved to not be true, they usually now know Neptune’s storms final about two years.

NASA . M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), and L.A. Sromovsky and P.M. Fry (University of Wisconsin-Madison)Neptune’s Dark Spot storm and a second breakaway storm dubbed “Dark Spot, Jr.”

“We are excited about these observations because this smaller dark fragment is potentially part of the dark spot’s disruption process,” Michael H. Wong, of the University of California at Berkeley, stated within the NASA information launch. “This is a process that’s never been observed. We have seen some other dark spots fading away and they’re gone, but we’ve never seen anything disrupt, even though it’s predicted in computer simulations.”

The storm is 4,600 miles throughout –  bigger than the Atlantic Ocean – and is definitely a high-pressure system, making it distinctly completely different from low-pressure storms like hurricanes. The gaseous ambiance it swirls in is made up primarily of hydrogen and helium, but additionally accommodates icy types of water, ammonia and methane. Being 30 occasions as removed from the solar as the Earth is, the tops of Neptune’s clouds are a frigid damaging 218 levels Celsius.


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