PHOTO IN THE NEWS: Jupiter Gains New Red Spot

Photo: Jupiter's new red spot
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May 23, 2008—A new hot-hued storm spot (far left) churns away on Jupiter on May 9 and 10, when the Hubble Space Telescope took the images that were combined to create this picture, which was released yesterday.

The "baby" storm is the gas giant's third red spot, after the Great Red Spot (at center-right) and Red Spot, Jr. (lower left). The new spot's size has not been announced. The Great Red Spot is roughly as wide as the entire Earth.

Jupiter's newest "blemish" used to be a white oval-shaped storm but turned brick red as its clouds rose and reacted to solar UV radiation.

Right now the as yet unnamed storm and the Great Red Spot are on a collision course.

In August the small oval will be either repelled by its biggest cousin—or absorbed into it. If that happens, the new red spot will be uncharacteristically short-lived.

The Great Red Spot has raged for 200 to 350 years. Red Spot, Jr., has continued since spring of 2006 (see 2006 photo).

The advent of yet another red spot in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere may support the idea that the planet is undergoing climate change.

Fluid-mechanics professor Philip Marcus of the University of California predicted in 2004 that rising temperatures would destabilize Jupiter's jet streams and give rise to more vortices.

—Anne Casselman

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