Jupiter’s Great Red Spot – an enormous tempest raging on the side of the planet – was expected to dissipate rapidly, but hundreds of years on, it is still one of the solar system’s most recognizable and mysterious features.
Scientists were unsure why the giant spot has prevailed, but now a team of U.S. researchers believe they have solved the mystery, using computer models.
They think the vertical motion of the gases holds the key to the Great Red Spot’s persistence by restoring part of its lost energy.
The giant storm on the surface of the gaseous planet should have disappeared centuries ago, based on scientists’ understanding of fluid dynamics.
Pedram Hassanzadeh, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, said a number of processes combine to dissipate vortices like the Red Spot.
The turbulence and waves in the violent storm sap the energy of its winds and it loses more energy by radiating heat, which should have caused the spot to fade away, Science Daily reported.
The spot sits between two strong jet streams that flow in opposite directions and slow down the spot’s spinning, he explained.