Great Cold Spot Found On Jupiter

Posted: Apr 12 2017, 5:36am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Great Cold Spot Found on Jupiter
The images on left show bright arcs of Jupiter's infrared aurora on two separate nights, top left image on 17 October and three images taken 31 December 2012, as planet slowly rotates. However, Great Cold Spot cannot be seen clearly until these images are saturated so that entire aurora becomes white, as shown on the right. Here, the planet glows as a result of the temperature of the upper atmosphere, and distinct regions of cooling that reveal Great Cold Spot can be seen. Based on VLT/ESO data
  • The Great Cold Spot was first discovered on Jupiter using observations taken of Jupiter's auroral region by the CRIRES instrument on ESO's Very Large Telescope.

The scientists and astronomers have detected a Great Cold Spot on Jupiter.

A Great Cold Spot has been discovered on the surface of Jupiter. This one is similar to the Great Red Spot for which Jupiter is so famous. This feature may have been extant since eons.

This is the very first evidence of a weather system caused by polar aurorae. Apparently this second Great Spot has also been created by potent energies. The Great Cold Spot is a local phenomenon that is 24,000 km in longitude and 12,000 km in latitude.

It exits in the thin thermosphere of the planet. The spot is 200 Kelvin colder than its environs. The surrounding atmosphere can range between 700K and 1000K. This study was published in the Geophysical Research Letters journal.

The lead author of the study has said that this was the first time that a weather phenomenon in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere was situated at a distance from the bright aurorae.

The Great Cold Spot happens to be more active and reactive than the Great Red Spot. It has shown a remarkable transformation over a short time span. Yet it has been reappearing too since the past decade and a half. This suggests that it may be thousands of years old.

This Great Cold Spot may be caused by the magnetic field of the planet. The polar aurorae send energy into the atmosphere in the shape of heat flowing around Jupiter.

A region of colder temperature thus develops in the thermosphere. This is a boundary layer between the inner atmosphere and the outer vacuum of space.

The astronomers employed the CRIRES instrument on the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to see spectral emissions of H3+ which is an ion of hydrogen that is a fundamental part of Jupiter’s atmosphere.

This also allowed the scientists to gauge the mean temperature and density of Jupiter’s atmosphere. Via a combination of images, that is 13,000 pictures taken over a period of 40 nights, the existence of the Great Cold Spot was revealed. It was a locus of relative darkness.

Also earth’s stratosphere shows similar changes in temperature and density thereby lending credence to the fact that this may be a process more common than thought of previously.

The detection of the Great Cold Spot was quite a surprise for the astronomers. They had hardly suspected such a phenomenon and its presence was a shock for both astronomers and the science of astronomy.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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