Jupiter has entered into a specific spot where it is directly opposite the Sun in terms of Earth’s position. This phase is simply called opposition. Making for a perfect moment for a photo to be snapped of the massive gas giant. And the Hubble space telescope did just that.
The photo was taken in the last moments of the opposition, on the 27th of June. And it shows that Jupiter has not changed much. Still neverending, raging gas storms that seem to create neet lines as they devastate everything in sight.
These storms can theoretically go on forever and even merge with one another. The atmosphere on Jupiter is mostly hydrogen with some helium. These gases are highly flammable and one rogue meteorite can a monumental explosion. Thankfully, the lack of oxygen on the giant planet does not allow combustion to take place.
The Great Red Spot
The viewer’s attention will no doubt center around the giant red spot in the photo. Giant is selling it short, as it is larger the Earth’s diameter. That is how large Jupiter is really, one spot on its surface is wider than our planet.
The spot is home to winds that blow away at speeds reaching up to 680 km per hour. Two bands of clouds can be seen to separate the formation. Scientists believe that the Great Red Spot formed around three and a half centuries ago and is showing evidence of shrinking.
Nobody knows why but the case is being studied and will receive even more attention in the future. As astronomers are waiting to receive their new instrument, which will replace Hubble in the recent future.
Strips of color
The strips of neatly arranged colors are formed by winds that travel at speeds close to 540 km per hour. Scientists call the lighter strips zones and the darker ones belts. It is not known why the strips have their specific colors but it has been theorized that the lighter ones get their color from the presence of ammonia ice that is flying around.