Artist’s concept of heating above the Great Red Spot (Image: Karen Teramura, UH IfA with James O’Donoghue and Luke Moore)
There’s a mystery above Jupiter. The planet is five times farther from the sun than Earth is—and yet has similar atmospheric temperatures to our own. So where’s all that extra heat coming from? It turns out, Jupiter may have a second heat source in its Big Red Spot.
In a new paper out today in Nature, researchers from Boston University explain how they constructed a heat-map of the atmosphere using infrared emissions thrown off by the planet. With that heat map, researchers were able to trace the temperature spike to its source. The highest temperatures were consistently over the planet’s Great Red Spot, an ever-present storm system larger than two Earths.
Researchers had previously flagged the turbulent storm as a potential heat source but, until…
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