Great Red Spot storm heating Jupiter's atmosphere: Study

Jul 29, 2016 14:14 IST

Astronomers in a new study claimed that Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a storm three times bigger than Earth, is hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on the planet. The study was published in Nature on 27 July 2016.

GRS, the largest storm in the solar system, was detected using an infrared telescope at Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory. The storm is based in Jupiter’s lower atmosphere and spans 13670 miles by 7456 miles (22000 km by 12000 km). The top of its clouds reach altitudes of about 31 miles (50 km).

The storms on Jupiter fail in making a landfall and dissipate, due to unavailability of land on the planet that is made almost entirely of hydrogen and helium. Unlike hurricane on Earth, the storm on Jupiter is calm but farther out winds reaches 270 mph to 425 mph (430 kmph to 680 kmph).

It is like a wheel that is wedged between two conveyor belts running in opposite directions. This helps them to add momentum at the top and bottom. They also feed the vortex to them and help in keeping them alive.

Based on the process of elimination, the study concluded that the newly found hot spot must be heated from below. However, the team concluded that the finding may fail to explain the real cause behind transfer of heat but provides a strong link between Jupiter's upper and lower atmosphere.

Change in Colour

Based on previous reports, the team of scientists concluded that over the time it has been changing its colour, as in a 1900 report in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer it was described the oval storm as salmon pink. Recent images from the Hubble Space Telescope show it has become orange tinged and more circular.

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