25th - 26th SEPTEMBER 2019  |  OLYMPIA

Space Photos of the Week: Jupiter’s Big Storm Is Blowing Over

Wired 10 Aug 2019 02:00

Our solar system’s largest planet got a new portrait this week, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope. The latest visuals of Jupiter help scientists learn a lot about what’s taking place in its atmosphere, particularly the iconic Great Red Spot. This 300-year-old storm used to be huge—so big it could hold nearly four Earths. Over the past few decades it has been shrinking, and no one knows why. These days it can hold about one and a half Earths. How the mighty have fallen.

This famous storm isn’t the only thing shaking on Jupiter. Its active atmosphere features pastel-colored bands of storms that curl around the gas giant at up to 400 miles per hour. Astronomers can spot mini storms forming around these belts from Hubble, adding to the science of this planet’s weather.

We’re also going to stare at the sun for a bit, safely. In early July, a total solar eclipse was visible over parts of South America. These kinds of eclipses don’t happen that often, so when they do, scientists jump at the chance to examine the sun's outer atmosphere, called the corona. Its wispy tendrils are only visible when the rest of our star is blotted out by the moon—in a perfect alignment not just for spectacle, but for solar astronomy.

Go big in the solar system or go home. Check out WIRED’s entire collection of space photos here.


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