On 27 June, as the opposition was waning, Hubble snapped a stunning new photo, revealing Jupiter in all its turbulent, varicolored splendor.
Prominently displayed virtually dead within the center is the Nice Red Spot, the colossal anticyclonic storm more massive than the entire diameter of Earth, its winds blowing widdershins at speeds up to 680 kilometers per hour (425 miles per hour) between two bands of clouds.
The storm, raging in the planet’s atmosphere, towers 5 kilometers (3 miles) above the clouds around it, drawing filaments from the encompassing darkness into its vortex. Interestingly, the center is relatively calm – just like a hurricane on Earth.
Though we think the Nice Red Spot has been around for around 350 years, lately, images present that the storm is shrinking. This newest photograph isn’t any exception. Planetary scientists are itching to get to the bottom of this peculiar shrinkage, however, to date it is nonetheless a mystery.
These bands of color are no slouches, either, in both turbulence or mystery. They’re powered by winds that zoom around the planet in alternating directions at speeds up to 540 kilometers per hour.
The light bands are known as zones, and the dark bands are known as belts, and what creates them is still poorly understood – the zones are believed to be given their color by ammonia ice, but the purpose behind the belts’ hue is much less clear.
In line with NASA, gases from Jupiter’s inside could be rising to color the cloud tops. But the zones have thicker clouds and rise increased than the belts.
The Nice Red Spot is not the only storm on Jupiter. Just under it within the picture, you can see two white spots – these are also anticyclonic storms, whereas the long wiggly worm-form above them is a clockwise-rotating cyclonic storm.
These storms can cling around for years, typically merging into each other to kind a Frankenstorm (probably not the official name; it is only a more significant storm).
Jupiter’s atmosphere is around 86 % hydrogen. Helium makes up 13.6 %. That remaining 0.4 % is the place all of the ammonia, methane, and water is accounted for Hydrogen is, in fact, extremely flammable, however, within the absence of oxygen, the gas cannot combust – which is why the planet’s total atmosphere does not merely catch fire when a meteor hits.
Several devices are persevering with to watch Jupiter within the hopes of showing what its super clouds are hiding, including the incredible quantity of data being sent home by the Juno probe.