Scientists find second spot on Jupiter

An image of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
An image of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Image: NASA.

Jupiter is known for its great red spot and the swirling patterns that bring to mind pottery. But as it turns out, scientists say there’s another spot on the planet as well.

    Astronomers at the University of Leicester in England report that they have discovered a second spot, possibly produced from energy by the planet’s northern lights. Dubbed the great cold spot -- as this is a region of cooling -- it is roughly 7,500 miles in latitude and 15,000 miles in longitude, astronomers believe. The great cold spot is volatile, changing shape and size within days or weeks, according to Tom Stallard, associate professor in planetary astronomy and lead author of the study, quoted on the university's website.
    Researchers have had data on it for the past 15 years. The entire time, it has appeared and reformed itself. As a result, astonomers believe it may be many thousands of years old.   
   The scientists' work was published in the April 11 edition of Geophysical Research Letters. 
    NASA defines Jupiter’s great red spot as a high-pressure storm on the planet similar to Earth’s worst hurricanes. But think big. Jupiter is 143,000 kilometers, or 89,000 miles wide at its equator. The great red spot's storm is roughly 10,500 miles wide, according to the Hubble Space Telescope website. Winds peak at 400 mph, and the storm is at least 150 years old -- but maybe older.




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