Jupiter’s Great Cold Spot

Sim­i­lar in size to the Great Red Spot, the patch is an au­ro­ral side ef­fect

Sky at Night Magazine - - BULLETIN - www.eso.org

New im­ages of Jupiter have re­vealed a Great Cold Spot, a colos­sal patch in the planet’s po­lar at­mos­phere which is 200 de­grees cooler than its sur­round­ings.

It’s thought that Jupiter’s au­ro­rae are driv­ing en­ergy into the at­mos­phere, cre­at­ing a re­gion of cool­ing in the up­per at­mos­phere that is 24,000km long and 12,000km wide, a sim­i­lar size to the Great Red Spot.

“[The Great Cold Spot] changes dra­mat­i­cally in shape and size over only a few days and weeks, but it has re-ap­peared for as long as we have data to search for it, for over 15 years,” says Tom Stal­lard of the Univer­sity of Le­ices­ter, who led the project. “That sug­gests that it con­tin­u­ally re­forms it­self, and as a re­sult it might be as old as the au­ro­rae that form it – per­haps many thou­sands of years old.”

Jo­vian au­ro­rae (left) are be­hind the cooler po­lar patch (right, marked with ar­rows)

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