Scientists have long known about Jupiter’s great red spot, but now it looks like the gassy planet’s famous atmospheric phenomenon has got company.
The curtain of light at Jupiter’s North Pole is called an aurora. It forms when electrons move along the planet’s magnetic field and excite atmospheric gases, making them glow.”
Scientists at the University of Leicester in the UK believe the aurora is directly related to a cold spot they have observed on Jupiter.
Writing in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, the scientists said the region is more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the gas around it. It also appears to be a vortex, meaning it rotates around an axis line.
The cold spot is similar in size to Jupiter’s great red spot and around twice the size of the Earth.
Over the past 15 years, the cold spot has changed in size and shape. It may be a weather system that waxes and wanes in relation to the intensity of the aurora.
Experts told Science News it was unexpected to see a weather system like the cold spot in the upper layers of Jupiter’s atmosphere.It was previously thought that the temperature contrasts caused by the aurora would smoothen out quickly, but it looks like the cold spot may have been there for quite some time.