The Great Red Spot on Jupiter is well-known for being an area which accumulates high pressure and leads to persistent storms. However, researchers discovered that this is not the only atypical area situated in the atmosphere of Jupiter.
With the help of the Very Large Telescope in Chile, researchers discovered a Great Cold Spot hiding in the atmosphere of Jupiter. After collecting data captured over a period of 15 years by several other telescopes, they were able to confirm that this cold spot actually exists.
A colder spot in Jupiter’s atmosphere
This spot has a width of about 7,500 miles and it stands out for its temperature which is cooler than the rest of the planet. The area which surrounds this spot as an atmospheric temperature situated between 700 and 1,000 Kelvin. This cold spot has a temperature lower by 200 Kelvin.
The finding surprised the scientists, as such a cold temperature registered in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter is quite unusual. However, they tried to find some explanations. They claim that the auroras present around the planet cause a lot of energetic fluctuations in the Jupiter atmosphere. These energetic fluctuations also cause heat fluctuations.
This is only a theory, and researchers need more evidence and data before they can confirm it. These auroras require more study, as they are complex phenomena which get a lot of other factors involved in their production.
Might we have a great cold spot on Earth, too?
Auroras occur in the Earth’s atmosphere, too. This made the researchers wonder if our planet might also have a cold spot. However, our auroras are not as constant. Thus, areas with great pressure might occur in our upper atmosphere, but they vanish quickly. But this is similar to the cold spot on Jupiter, which disappears and reappears quite often.
When the spot reappears, it is not completely unchanged. It usually does not occupy the same place in the atmosphere, and might even have a different form. This might be the effect of Jupiter’s shifting climate. Therefore, it is possible that this Great Cold Spot has been around for thousands of years.
Researchers will continue their investigation of this peculiar spot. By using data collected from many telescopes, and the observations made by Juno which is currently orbiting Jupiter, they will be able to put up a thorough analysis of the planet and its climate.