With its massive size, enormous magnetic field and giant storms, Jupiter has been called a planet of extremes. Now, a new storm has been spotted at Jupiter, and this one is even more volatile and extreme than the famous “Great Red Spot.”
It’s also much colder.
Nicknamed the “Great Cold Spot,” this storm spans 15,000 miles (24,000 kilometers) across and 7,500 miles (12,000 kilometers) wide. Located in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere, the storm is considerably cooler than its blistering surroundings, and researchers think it was formed by energy from Jupiter's polar aurora.
Although the Great Cold Spot was only recently discovered, archival data reveals that the storm has actually been around for at least 15 years, and likely much longer.
“The Great Cold Spot is much more volatile than the slowly changing Great Red Spot, changing dramatically in shape and size over only a few days and weeks, but it has re-appeared for as long as we have data to search for it, for over 15 years,” said Tom Stallard from the University of Leicester in the UK, lead author of the new paper, in a press release. “That suggests that it continually reforms itself, and as a result it might be as old as the aurorae that form it — perhaps many thousands of years old.”