Hubble Neptune sees a hefty storm on the reverse course


A dark vortex-like hurricane on Neptune discovered by the Hubble Space Telescope in September 2018 has paved the way for the untimely death of a large area of ​​blue ice.

The storm is across, at 600 miles – wider than the Atlantic Ocean – and formed in the Northern Hemisphere of Neptune. Hubble has been monitoring the hurricane since its discovery more than two years ago, and astronomers have seen the hurricane travel south near the planet’s equator.

This is essentially the kill zone, where hurricanes die on Neptune and disappear without a trace.

The vortex unexpectedly turned north again, However, Returning to its original location in 20 August 2020.

There have been four hurricanes in Neptune – including this one – dark spots (like the great red spot on Jupiter), observed by Hubble over the years. Hurricanes follow a similar pattern of appearing and disappearing during two years.

Voyager 2 also spotted two black hurricanes on Neptune during the 1989 planetary flyby – but disappeared well before Hubble could observe it after its 1993 launch.

What makes Shostopper such a vortex-like hurricane is that astronomers have never seen a storm on a double back on Neptune.

Researchers also believe that the hurricane lost a piece of its own in the process. In January, Hubble spotted a small dark spot called “Dark Spot Jr..” Called, which appeared next to a large dark spot. (Yes, it’s all lowercase).

The small dark spot was probably once part of a massive storm that broke up and stayed nearby before moving away and disappearing.

The Hubble picture was unveiled on Tuesday and during the American Geophysical Union Fall 2020 meeting, which was virtually caused by an epidemic.

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“We’re excited about these observations because this tiny dark piece is probably part of a process of disruption of dark spots,” said Michael H. Wong, a planetary scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, in a statement.

“This is a process that has never been observed. We’ve seen some other dark spots go away, and they’re gone, but despite the predictions in computer simulations, we’ve never seen anything disruptive.”

Watching the weather on Neptune

Images of Neptune returned by Voyager 2 and Hubble revealed that the ice giant is a bright blue, due to its atmosphere of hydrogen, helium and methane. But it is a dark, frozen world with an average temperature of negative 392 degrees Fahrenheit and screaming winds that send frozen methane clouds to the planet at 1,200 miles per hour.

It is the farthest planet in our solar system, about 30 times the father of the sun than Earth – and this distance looks like the twilight on Earth at noon on Neptune.

The Great Dark Spot on Neptune witnessed by Voyager 2 was so large that it could contain Earth.

Researchers don’t understand much about how these heavy storms form, but they were able to study this dark spot in more detail than previous storms.

These hurricanes on Neptune behave differently than hurricanes on Earth. Dark spots are high-pressure systems that start stationary and rotate clockwise while hurricanes on Earth are low-pressure systems that rotate clockwise.

When storms come close to Neptune’s equator – this stability is broken – except for the latest dark spot.

“It was really exciting to watch this one act, as if he was supposed to be acting and then all of a sudden he just stops and swings back,” Wong said. “It was amazing.”

Dark Spot Jr. when this opposite happened. Appeared. The piece was still very large, with a magnitude of 3,900 miles around it.

However, the timing of the emergence of the small spot was unusual.

“When I first saw the small space, I felt like the big space was being disrupted,” Wong said. “I don’t think another vortex has happened because the smaller one is farther towards the equator. So it’s inside this volatile field. But we can’t prove that the two are related. It’s a complete mystery.

Wong added, “It was also in January that the Dark Whirlpool stopped moving and started moving north again.” “Maybe throwing that piece out was enough to stop it from going to the equator.”

While Dark Spot Jr.. Disappeared, researchers are looking for any surviving remains of a small storm.

Hubble monitors the more distant planets in our solar system through its outer planetary atmospheric legacy program. This long-term program observes the outer planets of our solar system when they are closest to Earth in their orbits each year.

By comparing observations of these planets years later, scientists can track events such as storms and seasonal changes.

“If it weren’t for Hubble, we wouldn’t know anything about these recent dark spots,” said Amy Simon, lead investigator for the Opel program. In a statement at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Now we can observe a major storm over the years and see its full life cycle. If we didn’t have Hubble, then we might think that the Great Dark Spot seen by Voyager in 1989 is still on Neptune, the great red of Jupiter. Like the spot … and, we wouldn’t have known about the other four spots Hubble discovered. “


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