Sunday, January 16, 2022

Acceleration of Wind at Jupiter's Red Spot


Credits: NASA, ESA, Michael H. Wong (UC Berkeley)

Students have seen images of Jupiter's Great Red Spot. That dot shows a huge storm and the winds are slowly but steadily accelerating! The acceleration of the winds in the outermost "lane" of Jupiter's Red Spot has been detected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope, which has monitored the planet for more than a decade.

Researchers analyzing Hubble's "storm reports" from 2009 to 2020 found that the average wind speed within the boundaries of the storm's high-speed ring has increased by up to 8 percent and exceed 400 miles per hour. In contrast, the winds near the storm's innermost region, set off by a smaller green ring, are moving significantly more slowly. Both move counterclockwise.

Astronomers have pursued ongoing studies of the "king" of solar system storms since the 1870s. The Great Red Spot is an upwelling of material from Jupiter's interior. If seen from the side, the storm would have a tiered wedding cake structure with high clouds at the center cascading down to its outer layers. Astronomers have noted that it is shrinking in size and becoming more circular than oval in observations spanning more than a century. The current diameter is 10,000 miles across, meaning that Earth could still fit inside it.

Read more here.