Jupiter's Great Red Spot Has Some Company

Astronomers have discovered a 'Great Cold Spot' on Jupiter
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 12, 2017 2:54 PM CDT
Updated Apr 16, 2017 8:03 AM CDT
Jupiter's Great Red Spot Has Some Company
This composite image provided by NASA shows auroras on the planet Jupiter. On Tuesday, scientists reported a "Great Cold Spot" in the thermospehere of the planet. It's believed to be formed by the energy from Jupiter's polar auroras.   (NASA/ESA/Hubble via AP)

It looks like Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot has some company. Astronomers recently discovered a second spot located high in Jupiter's atmosphere, according to a study published Tuesday in Geophysical Research Letters. According to a press release, astronomers are calling this new spot the "Great Cold Spot." Ars Technica reports it's similar in size to the Great Red Spot—up to 100 million square miles or so—and is about 360 degrees Fahrenheit cooler than the surrounding atmosphere. The Great Cold Spot is also a lot more temperamental than its more famous sibling: It changes shape and size over the course of weeks and can even disappear at times.

The Great Cold Spot was first detected with data from Chile's Very Large Telescope, Space.com reports. After that, astronomers were able to go back through 15 years of data to find evidence of the spot, which has likely been around for many thousands of years. Astronomers say the discovery was "unexpected," and there's still a lot we don't know about Jupiter's atmosphere. They believe the Great Cold Spot's existence may have something to do with Jupiter's strong auroras. Astronomers should learn more about the Great Cold Spot from NASA's Juno probe, which is currently orbiting Jupiter. (New images of Jupiter are "like nothing we have seen.")

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