Research

Scientists for the first time in history watching the formation of the storm on Neptune

Jupiter's red spot is the largest of all.known storms in the solar system. It is she who is the "highlight" of the planet and makes it recognizable. The same storms occur on other space objects, but the duration of their life is much shorter - for example, they often form on Neptune. For the first time, humanity learned of their existence in 1989, as part of the Voyager-2 mission, but so far astronomers have not been able to follow the course of their formation. Now, thanks to the Hubble images, it finally happened.

One of the last storms of Neptune was discovered inSeptember 2018. The size of the dark spot was 11,000 kilometers in length, and 5,000 kilometers wide. For a while, NASA astronomers could not keep track of it due to the Hubble breakdown, but after the repair, they were able to observe the movement of the storm at 972 kilometers per hour for 20 hours.

Learn exactly how storms form on Neptune,It was possible thanks to the comparison of photographs taken at different times - fortunately, the space observatory has taken them since 2015. Initially, the dark spot was not visible at all, and in its place a few small clouds of white color soared. Scientists have suggested that they are made of methane ice crystals, and soared at a rather high altitude.

From this conclusion it followed that the storm itselfis formed on much lower layers of the atmosphere, and the clouds only signal the beginning of their formation. According to NASA, storms are formed on Neptune at intervals of four to six years. Moreover, their average life expectancy is two years, and the maximum is six years. Computer simulation has shown that Hubble can detect up to 70% of dark spots with an annual lifespan, and 95% with a two-year one.

The study of Neptune will allow to understand the processesthat occur on exoplanets that are very similar in size to the ice giants. According to planetary scientist Amy Simon, humanity currently has very little information about Neptune, and studying it is the beginning of an understanding of the work of distant planets.

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