March 7, 2006Look out, Great Red Spot. A brash young contender may be aiming for your title of Solar System's Most Powerful Storm.
NASA announced Friday that a new red spot has been born on Jupiter, as seen in a February 27 photograph (at top) by an amateur astronomer.
The new, formerly white spotactually a storm named Oval BAhas been swirling since at least 2000 but acquired the familiar blushing tint of its centuries-old cousin only a few weeks ago. Nicknamed "Red, Jr.," Oval BA formed as three tempests gradually combined into a single superstorm, as seen in the bottom set of images.
So why are the storms red? No one really knows, but some scientists suggest that these miles-high vortices suck up material from lower altitudes. Once exposed to the sun's rays, the theory goes, the material reddens.
(Related photo: stunning shot of the Great Red Spot.)
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