Jupiter’s great big blemish


The first relatively close-up photos of Jupiter’s red spot have been taken by Juno.

That thing is 16,000 km across — you could plop the whole planet Earth in there with room to spare. It’s spectacular, but I still don’t know what’s going on in that swirling chaos, or what caused it.

Comments

  1. says

    In a future pass they’re going to determine if there’s a mass anomaly under there that might help explain it.We may or may not get an answer.

  2. rietpluim says

    When you dive into it with your space craft, you’re transported to the future.

  3. says

    That’s where God lives.

    Or at least he will until we’re able to get probes down there then he’ll move. Again. He used to live in Uranus but he’s been pulled out of there many, many times already.

  4. wsierichs says

    It’s perfectly obvious that that’s Azathoth, who exists in the center of the chaos that is reality.
    The prophet Lovecraft said it in his sacred text, the Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, I believe it, that settles. it.

  5. rietpluim says

    When you dive into it without space craft, you’ll die.

    With or without, you’ll probably die anyway.

  6. timberwoof says

    Ooh! It’s fractally whirly!

    I look forward to the chemical analyses and measurements of temperature. My guess is that different chemistry changes the density and thermal properties of the atmosphere in there. Being darker, it would also absorb more sunlight and thus get warmer, helping to sustain whatever fluid-dynamic differences it has with the surrounding atmosphere.

    I hope that gravitational anomalies reveal the rotation rate of the solid body under the atmosphere; it will be interesting to see if that rotates at the same speed as the atmosphere.

  7. says

    Could it be the leftover disturbance from a whacking big rock? Heat might do that. We’ve only been looking at Jupiter for a very little while.

  8. consciousness razor says

    It’s spectacular, but I still don’t know what’s going on in that swirling chaos, or what caused it.

    Electromagnetism and gravity.

    If only they had a Nobel Prize for Vagueness….. I’d even be willing to split it with somebody, if they’d write the paper.

  9. consciousness razor says

    Marcus Ranum:

    Could it be the leftover disturbance from a whacking big rock? Heat might do that. We’ve only been looking at Jupiter for a very little while.

    Seems unnecessary. Jupiter could just have a gigantic storm, without needing a kick from some external thing like that. Lots of energy in that system (Jupiter plus the Sun), and it all needs something to do. Maybe this is just the work of the hairy ball theorem, or I don’t know, the ham sandwich theorem. If we knew more about the physics/chemistry/etc., I’m sure there would be plenty of nice theorems to pick from.

    An interesting tidbit on its wiki page:

    The Great Red Spot varies greatly in hue, from almost brick-red to pale salmon, or even white. In fact, the spot occasionally “disappears”, becoming evident only through the Red Spot Hollow, which is its niche in the South Equatorial Belt (SEB). Interestingly, its visibility is apparently coupled to the SEB; when the belt is bright white, the spot tends to be dark, and when it is dark, the spot is usually light. These periods when the spot is dark or light occur at irregular intervals; as of 1997, during the preceding 50 years, the spot was darkest in the periods 1961–1966, 1968–1975, 1989–1990, and 1992–1993.

  10. Alex the Pretty Good says

    Epic fart.

    @rietpluim, 4
    Yeah, ‘Storm’ is a fun and silly SF series. Well-drawn though I’m of two minds about some of the overarching plots in the Pandarve books.

  11. rietpluim says

    Alex the Pretty Good To be honest I never was a Storm fan, but I can imagine people think the drawing (painting really) is impressive.

  12. Mister Michael says

    Dr. Phil Marcus at Berkeley took a crack at this in the 80s / 90s – unless further work has evolved assumptions, this was pretty well sorted. Storm systems of this sort are an almost inevitable consequence of how the atmosphere is structured – Jupiter is convecting heat from its interior. As what comes up must push aside what’s there … the result is a belt / band structure once rotation is added, rather than simple hex cells and the like. The arrangement guarantees vortex shedding along the intersections. At the spot’s position relative to the axis of rotation, an accumulation of these is particularly feasible. Simulations of a mathematically similar flow field often spontaneously produced great spots! This does not rule out an extra seed/anomaly, but one may not be necessary – structures like it are … normal … for a fast rotating and energetic Jovian planet.

  13. lemurcatta says

    I’m saying I know for certain that the red spot is the result of alien activities… but it’s definitley aliens.

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