We all knew already that Neptune is a very peculiar object. Also known as the farthest planet from the Sun, Neptune has captured the attention of astronomers for many years. Storm vortices had been discovered before on Neptune as well as on other planets, but scientists are astonished by a newfound vortex.
The vortex from Neptune changes direction
The newfound storm is named NDS-2018, and it’s the first one that switches direction back to the polar region after going towards the equator. The event adds to the mysteries of the planet, as astronomers haven’t yet figured out what’s causing the vortex to change course.
NDS-2018, as you might have guessed already, was first discovered two years ago. By that time, the phenomenon had been growing until it measured about 11,000 kilometres across.
Scientists had been making observations of the storm via the Hubble Space Telescope in January, and they found a smaller dark smudge that was resembling the larger storm. Thus, except for the NDS-2018, humanity was witnessing the presence of Dark Spot Jr., as scientists called it.
After new observations made by Hubble in August, scientists concluded that the bigger storm got out of sight. ScienceAlert posted the following image to represent better what was found on Neptune:
Michael Wong, a planetary scientist of the University of California (Berkeley), declared:
We are excited about these observations because this smaller dark fragment is potentially part of the dark spot’s disruption process,
This is a process that’s never been observed. We have seen some other dark spots fading away, and they’re gone, but we’ve never seen anything disrupt, even though it’s predicted in computer simulations.
The new research was presented in the 2020 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union.