Winds on Jupiter are speeding up and no one knows why
All astronomers, professional and amateur, know that planet Jupiter is a prominent presence in the night sky. Thousands across the world point their telescopes at the biggest planet in the solar system and its moons. The planet has been of such fascination to humankind that it has been continuously observed since the year 1878.
The defining feature of the gas giant is the Great Red Spot. It is a storm raging in the gaseous clouds of the planet. The storm is greater in size than that of Earth. It is the largest storm of its kind in the solar system.
Now, a new study has revealed that winds in the Giant Red Spot are speeding up. And no one knows why.
Researchers took a look at data from Hubble Space Telescope collected between 2009 to 2020. They found that wind speeds in the storm had increased by 8 per cent over the period. It may appear to be a small increase but it is significant.
The coloured clouds at the edge of the storm are now reaching speeds of up to 640 kilometres per hour in counter-clockwise direction. But a definitive answer to why the wind speed is increasing has not been found.
Another mystery is the shrinking of the Great Red Spot. It has been observed that since 1878, it has become smaller. The shape has undergone a change as well. The storm has become more circular as compared to before.
Wonder storm chasers on Earth would like to do the same on Jupiter. Till they are ready to do such a thing, Hubble will have its lenses on the great planet.