NASA Scientists Report Strange 'Dark Vortex' In Neptune's Atmosphere

Space										
		
																	What is this weird stuff all over Uranus?					
								
			
	
		Mike Wehner			@MikeWehner					Februar

"Thankfully we're not too far away from having an answer, as the James Webb Space Telescope will be able to diagnose the temperatures and chemistry responsible for these reflectivity changes that Hubble has been monitoring".

During a routine sweep of the outer solar system, the Hubble Space Telescope caught a new and mysterious "dark vortex" in the clouds of Neptune, according to NASA.

"These images are part of a scrapbook of Hubble snapshots of Neptune and Uranus that track the weather patterns over time on these distant, cold planets", NASA said.

The storm appeared during the planet's southern summer, the fourth and latest mysterious dark vortex captured by Hubble since 1993.

Stargazers glimpsed "a vast bright stormy cloud cap across the north pole" which is a bit like the planetary equivalent of a vajazzle.

NASA first spotted the vortex twice during the 1989 flyby of the space probe Voyager. "This polar hood may have formed by seasonal changes in atmospheric flow".

Hubble uncovered the latest storm in September 2018 in Neptune's northern hemisphere.

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NASA estimates the vortex measures about 6,800 miles (10,940km) across and is joined by white "companion clouds" to the left and right of the mass.

"These clouds are similar to clouds that appear as pancake-shaped features when air is pushed over mountains on Earth (though Neptune has no solid surface)", the STScI said. NASA noted that prior to the appearance of the storm, increased cloud activity in the area was observed beginning in 2016.

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", said NASA, explaining the storm becomes even more prominent as it reaches a higher altitude.

New the telescope shows a dark storm on the surface of Neptune, visible in the center top.

"Scientists believe this new feature is a result of Uranus' unique rotation", added NASA, noting that, unlike the other planets in our solar system, Uranus is tipped on its side.

Similar to Earth, Neptune and Uranus have seasons that change atmospheric conditions. This leaves the sun shining non-stop onto its north pole during its long summer, likely resulting in widespread atmospheric changes. But as time progressed, a reflective band-whitish against Uranus' blue hues-began to appear encircling the north pole.

Ice giants Uranus and Neptune have water-rich interiors covered with hydrogen, helium, and methane, the last of which gives these external planets their particular cyan complexion. "It is a mystery how bands like these are confined to such narrow widths, because Uranus and Neptune have very broad westward-blowing wind jets".

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