Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Jupiter Grows Third Red Spot


Shaun sends in a fascinating article from Foxnews concerning curious weather manifestations on Jupiter. Its' well known Red Spot has had a smaller companion that was first observed in 2006.
The Little Red Spot, as it was named, shows both size and speed in threatening to knock the former champion off its perch, with Junior's maximum winds reaching 384 mph.

Now Little Red has been joined by a "smaller" companion. What is even more curious is the newer storms are not quite what they seem.

Thermal heat images showed that the Little Red Spot may already match the Great Red Spot for size, although the latter still appears almost twice as large on the surface of Jupiter's atmosphere when examined in visible light. Little Red Spot appears to be part of an interacting system that is actually larger than the Great Red Spot. The Little Red Spot has steadily gained strength even as the Big Red Spot shrinks. Astronomers remain mystified by the angry red color of the storms. The Little Red Spot only changed color in late 2005 after it formed from earlier mergers of three smaller storms. The newest third red spot began as an oval white storm.

Some have speculated that the increase in activity indicates that Jupiter is experiencing a warming trend and the additional energy may be causing more and more violent storms.

1 comment:

Shaun said...

Paul,

Interesting that you mention a warming trend - as I understand it from previous posts at BMU (my own and others), other planets in our solar system (aside from our own Earth) are also experiencing warming trends.

Before I head off to look into this in more detail, would anyone else like to add something?