For at least four centuries, the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, an enormous storm twice as big as our planet size, was an iconic landmark that is about to vanish. Amateur astronomers noticed some unusual activity recently around the most massive and long-standing storm of our solar system.
According to Space.com, blade-shaped arms are growing out of the storm and ultimately dissipating, causing it to shrink considerably. NASA’s senior research scientist told Space.com that the Great Red Spot that been shrinking at a consistent rate from an oval storm to a smaller circle, however, they have “never seen it like this before.” With 13,000 kilometers in diameter, in the past, it could have fit three Earth-sized planets inside of it, while now perhaps is the size of the Earth.
Christopher Go, an amateur astronomer from the Philippines noticed a reddish extension on the left side of the storm and he was photographing Jupiter on May 17. “At any given moment, there is someone, somewhere around the world imaging Jupiter,” Go said. “This really helps us in our long-term understanding of Jupiter.”
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is dying
Another amateur astronomer, Anthony Wesley, captured these exciting shapes of the storm on May 19 and again on May 22. “The amateur community is the one resource that gets measurements of Jupiter,” Orton reportedly said. “They do continuous monitoring.”
According to an email report by Jon Rogers of the British Astronomical Association, the red flakes lasted for more than a week. It is not the first time these blades formations are observed. As per Orton, “observations sensitive to upper-level hazes have detected high-altitude ‘flakes’ or ‘blades’ detaching from the western side of the Great Red Spot.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been monitoring Jupiter for a while and is continuing to investigate deeper the red storm. To get a better idea on how far down the red mark goes, Orton mentioned that they would prioritize the “gravity-sensing capability of the mission.”