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Great Red Spot hottest spot on Jupiter

Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a giant storm that has been raging for at least three centuries, turns out to be the hottest spot on Jupiter.

They suspect that the spot is heated from below, but really understand much else, or even that.

Juno is specifically designed to study the weather patterns of Jupiter, so we will get some of these answers, plus a lot more questions, in the coming years as the spacecraft gathers its data.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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  • Phill O

    If the Great Red Spot is indeed a hotter region, is the fading of it a result of global warming of the other regions?

    This could be linked to the apparent warming on Pluto.

  • Cotour

    Q: If Jupiter is made mostly of the gases Hydrogen and Helium, how many times must its mass increase before it would ignite and become a second star in our solar system?

  • Nick P


    Is there any evidence that any other planet is heating as well? If Jupiter is heating, and Pluto is heating and according to some the Earth is heating, isn’t it rather coincidental that at least 3 planets in the Solar System would be heating at the same time without a common cause?


  • Nick and Phill:

    Please relax. The solar system is not undergoing global warming.

    1. Pluto has been warming but only because its orbit is very eccentric and it was going through perihelion. It is now moving away from the Sun and is actually starting to cool down.

    2. Jupiter is not heating. Just because the Great Red Spot has been fading for the past century is absolutely no indicator that the rest of the planet is warming to match. In fact, if anything, based on pure thermodynamics, it probably means the Spot, hotter than the rest of the planet because it is a powerful storm, is simply cooling and dying.

    I would have thought you both would know this facts, considering you are both very skilled amateur astronomers. :)

    As for the Earth, no one has the faintest idea what is happening with our climate, despite the claims of Al Gore.

  • Nick P


    I am not experiencing any anxiety. I have no expertise in planetary thermodynamics so at times it makes sense to ask rhetorical questions to spur discussion. You were kind enough to chime in. Thanks.

    Inquiring minds like to learn:-)

  • TL

    The quality of reporting on this by “news” organizations has made my head hurt.
    From the BBC article:
    “The key to revealing the temperature spike was a tiny ion: H3+, a hydrogen molecule (H2) with an added proton.”

    From USA Today:
    “Similar to how a guitar string moves when plucked, gravity waves are created when air currents collide with objects like mountains. “

  • wayne

    Cotour– interesting question. (That’s the kind of stuff I love.)

    The short answer is “about 80 times it’s current size.”
    This short video (5 minutes) might enlighten you– the answer comes at about the 2-3 minute mark.

    Could Jupiter become a Star?

    >It’s purely a Mass thing. (and you want mass composed of Hydrogen)
    -Our Sun is 1,000 times less massive than Jupiter, although our Sun is not the smallest size star that can exist.
    Increase the mass by 80 times and you could wind up with a Red Dwarf.
    (there are Brown Dwarf stars that are about 10% the size of our Sun, but they don’t actually fuse helium, they “burn” deuterium.)

  • Nick P


    “Our Sun is 1,000 times less massive than Jupiter”


  • wayne

    Nick P— Thanks! (That doesn’t make any sense, does it!)
    “The Sun is 1,000 times more massive than Jupiter.”

  • Cotour

    We know what he meant. (you have been busted by the high IQ nerd police)

    Thank you Wayne, will watch that vid later.

  • Wayne: If you want I can correct your post.

  • Alex

    Contour: Here is a wiki link with many more details to answer your question. At least 13-times of Jupiter mass results in a Brown dwarf, with some fusion reactions, which is not considered as “full” stars (> 60 Jupiter masses).

  • wayne

    No problem Mr. Z.

    As the saying goes, “measure twice, cut once.”

    on an infinitely lighter “space-weather” note–

    “It is very Cold, in Space”

  • wayne

    Alex– Good deal! Lots-o-good star factoids!

  • Phill O

    The atmosphere of Pluto is really an unknown at this time to what it is doing and to what the climate change is and what it is due to. Yes, as it moves away from the sun it would receive less light and since the variance of the sun is about 0.1%, one could assume that Pluto’s climate is cooling. However, we are getting to know that the sun’s influence on atmospheres may be significantly greater than the 0.1% we are familiar with. The exact interactions of the sun’s output on atmosphere may be greatly influenced by the wavelength. We know nothing about the variance of the sun’s output during a Maunder type minimum. This is what the Solar Dynamics Observatory should shed some “light” on.

    Is the Great Red Spot not a swelling up of sulfur compounds from lower atmospheric levels?

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