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Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is not doomed and its death has been ‘greatly exaggerated’

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot is one of the famous sights in our solar system but was feared to be doomed to die.

Now scientists have said fears of its death have been ‘greatly exaggerated’ and claimed there is no evidence the spot has changed in size or intensity.

The huge red feature is actually a giant storm where winds blow at speeds of up to 425 miles per hour.

Philip Marcus, from the University of California, Berkeley, said it’s likely to keep on blowing.

‘I don’t think its fortunes were ever bad,’ he said.

‘It’s more like Mark Twain’s comment: The reports about its death have been greatly exaggerated.’

He has been exploring how smaller clouds bump into the Great Red Spot to create ‘stagnation points, where the velocity abruptly stops, restarts and goes off in different directions’.

A view of the iconic Great Red Spot (Image: Nasa)
A series of images capturing the repeated flaking of red clouds from the spot in the Spring of 2019 (Image: Chris No)

This process shatters the clouds into ‘flakes’ which can be seen by astronomers.

‘The loss of undigested clouds from the GRS through encounters with stagnation points does not signify the demise of the GRS,’ Marcus added.

‘The proximity of the stagnation points to the GRS during May and June does not signify its demise. The creation of little vortices to the east, northeast of the GRS during the spring of 2019 and their subsequent merging with the GRS with some does not signify its demise.’

Marcus said a secondary circulation driven by the heating and cooling of the Great Red Spot allows it to continue to exist over the centuries, letting if ‘fight off decay of its energy’.


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