Jupiter's Red Spot Heats Up Planet's Upper Atmosphere

Jul 28, 2016 05:37 AM EDT

The Great Red Spot could be one the most popular attributes of the giant gas planet, Jupiter. Based on recent readings, the great red spot is where the highest temperature was recorded.

The GRS is a gigantic storm in the lower layer of Jupiter's atmosphere and now it is proven that the temperature above the spot is also higher compared elsewhere to the planet. Above the massive storm, a temperature reaching 700 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded, confirming the fact that the storm heats up the upper atmosphere above it.

This can add up to the mean reputation of Jupiter as the biggest and baddest planet in the Solar System. This new discovery gives light to the mystery of the heating of Jupiter's upper atmosphere that cannot be attributed to solar heating alone.

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Although one obvious reason for atmospheric heating is the energy emitted by the Sun, this isn't the case for Jupiter since it is farther away from the Sun.

"With solar heating from above ruled out, we designed observations to map the heat distribution over the entire planet in search for any temperature anomalies that might yield clues as to where the energy is coming from," Dr. James O'Donoghue, research scientist and lead author of the study said in a statement.

With its distance to the Sun, it is first believed that Jupiter's atmosphere should be cooler. Evidence from the new study published in the journal Nature, suggests that the heating of the upper atmosphere is due to the combination of gravity waves and acoustic waves created by the turbulence and violent behavior in the atmosphere below the Great Red Spot.

"Changes in density around the Great Red Spot will shoot waves in all directions," James O'Donoghue, lead author of the new study said in an interview with Space.Com. "We believe that acoustic waves are the majority of the heating cause, because gravity waves tend to ship their energy across the planet, rather than vertically up like acoustic waves." 

The acoustic waves have the capacity to store kinetic energy when it encounters lower density regions making the air move around raising the temperature.


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