Published: Sun, February 10, 2019
Science | By

Look at this colossal storm on Uranus

Look at this colossal storm on Uranus

Planetary scientist Amy Simon of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center says, it's the only world that doesn't give off more heat from its core than it receives from the sun, which could play a role in its storm activity.

On Neptune, a dark storm 6,800 miles wide is now swirling around in the planet's northern hemisphere-one of four observed by NASA's Hubble since 1993.

Every year, the Hubble space telescope takes photos of the solar system's gas giants as part of a programme to help better understand the four planets.

It's unclear how these storms form.

"The feature is the fourth and latest mysterious dark vortex captured by Hubble since 1993", said NASA.

NASA said: "Near the edge of the polar storm is a large, compact methane-ice cloud, which is sometimes bright enough to be photographed by amateur astronomers".

Two other dark storms were discovered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 as it flew by the remote planet, NASA said. The "cloud cap" may have formed as a result of the seasonal changes in the atmosphere.

Hubble uncovered the latest storm in September past year in Neptune's northern hemisphere. Based on their observations, scientists measured the storm at about 6,800 miles across.


Nestling up next to Neptune's "dark vortex" are larger patches of white clouds created by gases freezing into methane crystals as air gets pushed up over the disturbance, not unlike the way clouds form over landmasses on Earth.

The causes of these dark spots is a mystery, but because they're only seen at the bluest wavelengths, "my money is on some sort of coloration of the clouds", said Irwin. But like Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the dark vortices swirl in an anti-cyclonic direction and seem to dredge up material from deeper levels in the ice giant's atmosphere.

With the planet now reaching the middle of its summer and the polar cap storm seeming to become more prominent, experts think the changes may result from this seasonal shift which influences movements in the atmosphere.

The distant blue planets of our solar system, Uranus and Neptune, are now showing more storms than ever throughout the year as they are going through extended summer seasons. The giant is sporting a wide white spot across its north pole. Scientists say this feature is attributed to Uranus' distinctive rotation, which causes it to have an extreme tilt.

Like the Earth, Uranus and Neptune have seasons, which have their own characteristics.

A "bright stormy cloud cap" was seen hovering over the seventh planet from the Sun. Because of this extreme tilt, during the planet's summer the Sun shines nearly directly onto the north pole and never sets.

"A narrow cloud band encircles the planet north of the equator". Additionally, both planets are considered as the Ice Giants: They have mantles of hydrogen and helium that surround a water-rich interior.

Like Neptune, Uranus is extremely far away.

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