Jupiter’s red spot is probably not the red spot seen in 1665

In the 1660s, Italian astronomer Gian Domenico Cassini discovered something while observing the planet Jupiter: a giant blotch that is now known as the planet’s signature. This planetary feature, known as the Great Red Spot or the Permanent Spot, is thought to be evidence of a giant Jovian storm. But new research suggests that the storm astronomers can see today is not the same one that Cassini observed nearly four centuries ago.

What looks like a red spot when seen from space is actually an anticyclone vortex twice as large as Earth. Modern observations suggest the storm includes winds of up to 400 miles per hour, and its distinctive color may be caused by interactions between elements in Jupiter’s atmosphere and cosmic rays or other forms of radiation. Although the spot has been known for centuries, it still poses a number of dangers Mystery For researchers.

Cassini was the first to be known as a pioneer of telescopic astronomy. saw In 1665 the spot was described as a dark oval, with the authors noting that the spot was “permanent and often seen to return to the same place with the same size and shape.” Astronomers recorded sightings of the spot until 1713, but then observations stopped. It took until 1831 for other scientists to report a spot again in the same location as Cassini.

Write In Geophysical Research Letters, the researchers used historical observations to track the spot’s size and movement over the years, comparing those older observations to modern observations. They then simulated different ways the spot could have arisen.

Their analysis shows that the spot seen today more closely resembles the one seen in the 1800s than the one Cassini observed much earlier. Over time, the spot has shrunk and become rounder, possibly because it is spinning faster, the researchers wrote. They concluded that the spot must have been formed by unstable winds that created a proto-storm that disappeared and then returned.

“Turning back to Cassini’s notes and drawings has been very moving and inspiring,” Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, a professor of applied physics at the University of the Basque Country in Bilbao, Spain, who led the research, said in a news release. release“Other people had discovered these observations before us, and now we have quantified the results,” he added.


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