Jupiter stares back in ravishing Hubble portrait

Rodiano Bonacci
Agosto 9, 2019

Hubble's perspective of Jupiter, which was taken on June 27 when Jupiter was 400 million miles from Earth, shows the massive planet's famous Great Red Spot, along with a more intense group of colors swirling in the Gas Giant's turbulent atmosphere. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Jupiter when the planet was 400 million miles (640 million kilometers) from Earth, when Jupiter was near "opposition", or nearly directly opposite the sun in the sky. And luckily, Jupiter has an interplanetary visitor - NASA's Juno spacecraft - scanning the planet's clouds to gather more information. Astronomers are still unsure of why cloud bands change colors or why storms become smaller, however, a new Hubble Space Telescope portrait gives a close-up look at Jupiter's unpredictable atmosphere and might provide some insights on the planet's dynamic activity.

But the most well-known feature of Jupiter is the Great Red Spot - the largest known storm in the solar system.

"Although astronomers have been observing the gas giant planet for hundreds of years, it still remains a mysterious world". While the spot - an ancient, gargantuan storm - can alone still swallow up to three Earth-sized planets, since the 1800s scientists and stargazers have watched the spot shrink in size; nobody is quite sure why.

One new key to the shrinking-spot puzzle could be the color intensity of the clouds that Hubble spotted in its fresh image, which was obtained on June 27.

Jupiter's cloud bands are confined by jet streams that move in opposite directions at different latitudes. Two cloud bands, which are located above and below the Great Red Spot, are moving in opposite directions. The lighter bands rise the highest, while thicker clouds represent the darker ribbons in the band. Bands cover much of the planet, but they tend to stay in place, even while changing color, due to jet streams constantly screaming through Jupiter's atmosphere at up to 400 miles per hour (644 km/h).

A long thin blemish can be seen to the south of the GRS, created by a cyclone travelling in the opposite direction to the counter-clockwise spin of Jupiter's premier storm.

The bands of colours are all separated by jet winds that reach speeds of 400mph (644kph).

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