Aurora may fuel colder mark in planet’s northern atmosphere
J. Nichols/University of Leicester, NASA, ESA
Jupiter’s got a second giant spot.
Called the Great Cold Spot, this dark mark is twice as big as Earth, but cooler and more fickle than the planet’s famous (and similarly sized) Great Red Spot. The cool spot sits in Jupiter’s northern regions, not far from the stunning northern aurora in the planet’s atmosphere. The aurora may play a role in creating the newly detected dark mark, researchers report online April 10 in Geophysical Research Letters.
“We can’t be exactly sure how the spot forms,” says study coauthor Tom Stallard, a planetary scientist at the University of Leicester in England. “But we are sure it is there because we observed it numerous times.”
Stallard and colleagues got their first clue that the Great Cold Spot existed when they used the Very Large Telescope in Chile to study an ion of hydrogen in Jupiter’s