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Jupiter's giant red spot shrinking, Hubble images show

By Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL Fla. (Reuters) - Jupiter's most distinctive feature – a giant red spot bigger than Earth – is shrinking, images from the Hubble Space Telescope released on Thursday showed.

The so-called "Great Red Spot" is a violent storm, which in the late 1800s was estimated to be about 25,000 miles (about 40,000 km) in diameter – wide enough for three Earths to fit side by side.

The storm, which is the biggest in the solar system, appears as a deep red orb surrounded by layers of pale yellow, orange and white. Winds inside the storm have been measured at several hundreds of miles per hour, NASA astronomers said.

By the time NASA's Voyager space probes flew by in 1979 and 1980, the spot was down to about 14,500 miles (22,500 km) across.

Now, new pictures taken by the Earth-orbiting Hubble space telescope show Jupiter's red spot is smaller than it has ever been, measuring just under 10,250 miles (16,100 kilometers) in diameter. It also appears more circular in shape.

Scientists aren't sure why the Great Red Spot is shrinking by about 621 miles (1,000 km) a year.

"It is apparent that very small eddies are feeding into the storm ... These may be responsible for the accelerated change by altering the (storm's) internal dynamics," Amy Simon, an astronomer with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said in a statement. Simon and colleagues plan follow-up studies to try to figure out what is happening in Jupiter's atmosphere that is draining the storm of energy and causing it to shrink.

(Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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rrpatreilly May 17 2014 at 4:06 AM

This is either Bush's fault or it is being caused by man made global warming, or man made climate change or man made climate disruption. As soon as the majority of the scientists, who receive their funding from governments, get their heads together with the governments, this will become attached to man's actions on earth.

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1 reply
mickylitz2 rrpatreilly May 17 2014 at 4:11 AM

Excellent rrpatreilly l,so right....
Of course it will have some bearing with man's actions, followed by man's thoughts.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
funguy405 May 17 2014 at 1:19 AM

send Al Gore up to check it out....

Flag Reply +12 rate up
2 replies
greylornn funguy405 May 17 2014 at 2:17 AM

One way, please.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Lonnie an Tina funguy405 May 17 2014 at 4:01 AM

Please know not that he will blame it on the Mexicans again lol

Flag Reply +2 rate up
grumpy1044 May 17 2014 at 5:11 AM

It must be global warming :)

Flag Reply +9 rate up
ilovedorkychicks May 17 2014 at 5:00 AM

It must be due to climate change.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
greylornn May 17 2014 at 2:15 AM

If you ask Obama, he will tell you the red spot change is directly related to the amount of carbon (dioxide) put into the air (by "his" Senate), that industry should be taxed mercilessly as a penalty, and that it's Bush's fault.

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wnagle53 May 17 2014 at 4:59 AM

COME ON ! We all know it's from man-made global warming climate change.
STOP the denying. It is SETTLED science !!!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
JimFish wnagle53 May 18 2014 at 4:55 PM

cow farts

Flag Reply 0 rate up
mikeam91 May 17 2014 at 2:01 AM

When you republicans comment about Jupiter's shrinking red spot being caused by climate change, you are just making yourself look moronic. Any smart person (and by that I mean a liberal) knows that earth's climate could never affect a planet 365 million miles away. Furthermore, that smart person, would know that climate change is undeniably occurring and not just because of a natural cycle of earth's climate, but instead caused by a host of facts that Neil deGrasse Tyson can explain in much more clarity and detail than I.

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8 replies
rwgebo1889 May 17 2014 at 1:06 AM

Climate change on Jupiter? Al Gore out there too?

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1 reply
Lonnie an Tina rwgebo1889 May 17 2014 at 4:10 AM

yea with Bush, an Nixson, an Johnson an ..........

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chrisk529 May 16 2014 at 11:58 PM

It's global warmimg - oops, I mean climate change, and it's all Bush's fault.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
ergt86 May 17 2014 at 12:30 AM

Climate change is a fact and it occurs everywhere and is continuous. Our planet is no different. Planet Earth has been in a constant state of climate change since its beginning. We humans must learn how to adjust to climate change or we will go extinct.

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