Published on Journal Nature, a recent study lead by James O’Donoghue, Research Scientist at Boston University and colleagues from University of Leicester, came to the conclusion that the upper atmosphere of the largest planet on the Solar System, Jupiter, is being heated by the Great Red Spot (two times the size of the Earth) making it the warmest atmosphere on the planet.

The Great Red Spot, an enormous storm capable enough to swallow three earths appears to be supplying enough heat to warm the rest of the planet’s upper atmosphere (heat propelled). How the heat is transferred remains unknown but most likely energy source are acoustic waves.

As the researchers write: “On Jupiter, acoustic-wave heating has been modeled to potentially impart hundreds of degrees of heating to the upper atmosphere”

Using the NASA infrared telescope facility at Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatory the scientists found by a process of elimination that the giant red spot must be heated from below. The Earths atmospheric heating comes from the sun but as for Jupiter’s atmosphere it has records of an extraordinarily temperature of 2,420 degrees Fahrenheit right above the Great Red Spot, as the scientists team could ascertain. Jupiter sets along with Earth as one of the planets that orbit around the sun although it sits around 391 miles (more) difference compared with ours.

“The Great Red Spot is like a wheel that’s wedged between two conveyors belts running in opposite directions”; “One is adding momentum to it at the top, and another is adding momentum at the bottom. Together they feed the vortex and essentially keep it alive” Senior Planetary Scientist Glenn Orton referred.

The center is relatively calm but farther, winds reach 270 mph to 425 mph and at the start of 2004 had approximately half the longitudinal extent it had a century ago, when it reached a size of almost 25 miles. At the present rate of reduction it would become circular by 2040. It is not known how long the spot will last, or whether the change is a result of normal fluctuations. The storm can’t really made a landfall and dissipate as there is no land in Jupiter which is entirely made of hydrogen and helium.

Being the largest storm in the solar system and been raging for at least 3 centuries, the red brick colorful storm is hundreds of degrees hotter than anywhere else on the planet and the top of its clouds reaches altitudes of about 31 miles. Most sources concur that it has been continuously observed for 300 years.

Recently arrived NASA’S Juno spacecraft for a twenty month mission around the planet and landed at 4 of July, will have several opportunities to observe closely the enormous Great Red Spot. The microwave radiometer, with which the spacecraft is equipped, allows the sense of heating coming from within the planet and helping in understand the spot’s heating effects.

The team referred that “the extremely high temperatures observed above the storm are a “smoking gun” for their theory, which says that the spot produces two kinds of turbulent energy waves – gravity waves and acoustic waves. When these waves collide, the team says, the resultant energy heats the upper atmosphere. ”

– André Raio, Correspondent (Science)

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