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HUBBLE CAPTURES BIRTH OF GIANT STORM ON NEPTUNE
25 March 2019


This composite picture shows images of storms on Neptune from the Hubble Space Telescope (left) and the Voyager 2 spacecraft (right). The Hubble Wide Field Camera 3 image of Neptune, taken in Sept. and Nov. 2018, shows a new dark storm (top center). In the Voyager image, a storm known as the Great Dark Spot (GDS) is seen at the center. It is about 13,000 km by 6,600 km in size — as large along its longer dimension as the Earth. The white clouds seen hovering in the vicinity of the storms are higher in altitude than the dark material. Credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC/JPL.

WASHINGTON – Images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope document the formation of a Great Dark Spot on Neptune for the first time, report researchers in a new study.

Like Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, Neptune’s Great Dark Spots are storms that form from areas of high atmospheric pressure. In contrast, storms on Earth form around areas of low pressure.

Scientists have seen a total of six dark spots on Neptune over the years. Voyager 2 identified two storms in 1989. Since Hubble launched in 1990, it has viewed four more of these storms. (...)

By studying companion clouds that showed up two years before the new Great Dark Spot, the researchers conclude dark spots originate much deeper in Neptune’s atmosphere than previously thought.

The Hubble images also helped the researchers pinpoint how often Neptune gets dark spots and how long they last. The new findings give scientists insights on the inner workings of the poorly-understood ice giant planets but also have implications for studying exoplanets of similar size and composition. (...)

https://news.agu.org/press-release/hubble-captures-birth-of-giant-storm-on-neptune/