According to a new study, Jupiter’s red spot is hotter than initially presumed. The large storm in the atmosphere that rotates counterclockwise is apparently considerably hotter than the rest of the atmosphere. Scientists speculate that the storm may be the reason why the Red Giant is warmer than it should be given its distance from the Sun.
James O’Donoghue, a researcher at the Center for Space Physics at Boston University, conducted a study using data gathered at the IRTF (NASA Infrared Telescope Facility). The SpeX instrument monitored the variation in temperature at Jupiter’s atmospheric level. They measured the fluctuations in the Red Spot and around it.
The behemoth planet has a very heated atmosphere. Temperatures here can reach even 1,7000 degrees Fahrenheit, or 930 degrees Celsius. The only exception is represented by the poles which are significantly hotter due to the interaction between charged particles originating from both Io and the Sun.
The notable differences puzzled the scientific community for years, especially since the gaseous giant is located at a great distance from the solar systems’ heat source. Even the countless computer simulations ran by researchers showed that the atmosphere should have been cooler than it is.
From what O’Donoghue and his team determined, the temperatures in the Great Red Spot are approximately 700 degrees Fahrenheit, or 370 degrees Celsius, hotter than the rest of the Red Giant’s atmosphere.
The spot in question is around two times bigger than the Earth, and it is located in the lowest layer of Jupiter’s atmosphere.
According to the study published Wednesday in Nature magazine, O’Donoghue’s team believes that this unusual occurrence is to blame for the abnormally hot atmosphere that surrounds the gas giant.
They base their theory on the effects of a combination of acoustic waves and atmospheric gravity waves.
The researchers believe that atmospheric gravity waves occur when air pockets hit mountains. The result is similar to that of the ripples created by a rock hitting the smooth surface of a lake. Acoustic waves are nothing more than sound waves traveling upward. When they move, they release a considerable amount of energy that raises the temperature by increasing the movement of molecules and atoms.
Researchers hope that the Juno spacecraft will gather more relevant data on the Red Giant Spot and the shifts in temperature at the atmospheric level.
Image source: Wikipedia