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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Mar 4, 2006 3:42:09 GMT -6
Jupiter's New Red Spot
March 3, 2006: Backyard astronomers, grab your telescopes. Jupiter is growing a new red spot.
Christopher Go of the Philippines photographed it on February 27th using an 11-inch telescope and a CCD camera:
The official name of this storm is "Oval BA," but "Red Jr." might be better. It's about half the size of the famous Great Red Spot and almost exactly the same color.
Oval BA first appeared in the year 2000 when three smaller spots collided and merged. Using Hubble and other telescopes, astronomers watched with great interest. A similar merger centuries ago may have created the original Great Red Spot, a storm twice as wide as our planet and at least 300 years old.
At first, Oval BA remained white—the same color as the storms that combined to create it. But in recent months, things began to change:
"The oval was white in November 2005, it slowly turned brown in December 2005, and red a few weeks ago," reports Go. "Now it is the same color as the Great Red Spot!"
"Wow!" says Dr. Glenn Orton, an astronomer at JPL who specializes in studies of storms on Jupiter and other giant planets. "This is convincing. We've been monitoring Jupiter for years to see if Oval BA would turn red—and it finally seems to be happening." (Red Jr? Orton prefers "the not-so-Great Red Spot.")
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jun 3, 2006 12:09:28 GMT -6
Red Spot Jr & Great Red Spot Approaching each other
Here is a fine site with images monitoring the inter-relationship of the two spots. The author goes on to say:
"Between Jluly 10-15, the Great Red Spot (GRS) will have a conjunction with the Red Oval BA. Although both spots will just pass by, there is a possibility that the GRS might distort the Oval BA as it did 2 years ago. There is NO possibility of merger though. I would like to invite all Jupiter enthusiast to image this event."
You can visit this site and assist in monitoring the spots at:
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Jul 25, 2006 0:33:17 GMT -6
Gemini Captures Close Encounter Of Two Jupiter Red Spots
Gemini North adaptive optics image of Jupiter and its two red spots in near infrared light. In this color composite image, white indicates cloud features at relatively high altitudes; blue indicates lower cloud structures; and red represents still deeper cloud features. The two red spots appear more white than red, because their tops hover high above the surrounding clouds. Also prominent is the polar stratospheric haze, which makes Jupiter bright near the pole (unlike the other orange/red features in this image, the polar haze is high in Jupiter's atmosphere). Other tiny white spots are regions of high clouds, like towering thunderheads. In visible light Jupiter looks orangeish, but in the near-infrared the blue color is due to strong absorption features. The blue mid-level clouds are also closest to what one would see in a visual light image. Image credit: Gemini Observatory
Hilo HI (SPX) Jul 25, 2006 A high-resolution image released today by the Gemini Observatory shows two giant red spots brushing past one another in Jupiter's southern hemisphere.
The image was obtained in near infrared light using adaptive optics which corrects, in real-time, for most of the distortions caused by turbulence in Earth's atmosphere. The result is a view from the ground that rivals images from space.
"It was tricky getting this image," said Gemini astronomer Chad Trujillo who helped lead the effort to capture the event. "Since we used adaptive optics we needed a star-like object nearby to guide on, so we had to find a time when Jupiter's moon Io would appear close enough to Jupiter and the red spots would be optimally placed on Jupiter's disk. Fortunately it all worked out on the evening of July 13th and we were able to capture this relatively rare set of circumstances."
Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Oct 11, 2006 4:14:33 GMT -6
Jovian Junior Red Spot Growing Stronger
Oct 11, 2006 The highest wind speeds in Jupiter's Little Red Spot have increased and are now equal to those in its older and larger sibling, the Great Red Spot, according to observations with NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. The Little Red Spot's winds, now raging up to approximately 400 miles per hour, signal that the storm is growing stronger, according to the NASA-led team that made the Hubble observations. The increased intensity of the storm probably caused it to change color from its original white in late 2005, according to the team.
"No one has ever seen a storm on Jupiter grow stronger and turn red before," said Amy Simon-Miller of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., lead author of a paper describing the new observations appearing in the journal Icarus. "We hope continued observations of the Little Red Spot will shed light on the many mysteries of the Great Red Spot, including the composition of its clouds and the chemistry that gives it its red color."
Although it seems small when viewed against Jupiter's vast scale, the Little Red Spot is actually about the size of Earth, and the Great Red Spot is around three Earth diameters across. Both are giant storms in Jupiter's southern hemisphere powered by warm air rising in their centers.
The Little Red Spot is the only survivor among three white-colored storms that merged together. In the 1940s, the three storms were seen forming in a band slightly below the Great Red Spot. In 1998, two of the storms merged into one, which then merged with the third storm in 2000. In 2005, amateur astronomers noticed that this remaining, larger storm was changing color, and it became known as the Little Red Spot after becoming noticeably red in early 2006.
The new Hubble observations by the team reveal that winds in the Little Red Spot have grown stronger compared to previous observations. In 1979, Voyager 1 and 2 flew by Jupiter and recorded that top winds were only about 268 miles per hour in one of the "parent" storms that merged to become the Little Red Spot.
Nearly 20 years later, the Galileo orbiter revealed that top wind speeds were still the same in the parent storm, but winds in the Great Red Spot blew at up to 400 miles per hour. The team used Hubble's new Advanced Camera for Surveys instrument to discover that top wind speeds in both storms are now the same, because this instrument has enough resolution to track small features in these storms, revealing their wind speeds.
Scientists are not sure why the Little Red Spot is growing stronger. One possibility is a change in size. These storms naturally fluctuate in size, and their winds spin around their central core of rising air. If the storm were to become smaller, its spiraling winds would increase the same way spinning ice skaters turn faster by pulling their arms closer to their bodies. Another possibility is that it's the only survivor. "The lack of other large storms in the same latitude on Jupiter leaves more energy to feed the Little Red Spot," said Simon-Miller.