Why is Jupiter’s Great Red Spot changing shape?

We find out why Jupiter’s trademark feature is downsizing

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Jupiter's trademark Great Red Spot has shrunk and taken on a more-circular appearance

Jupiter’s trademark Great Red Spot has shrunk and taken on a more-circular appearance

Asked by Henry Michaels

Jupiter’s famous Great Red Spot, a swirling anticyclonic storm that’s bigger than Earth, has shrunk in size and it’s thought that the downsizing could be caused by small eddies feeding into the gas giant’s trademark feature. However, this is just speculation.

Observations taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have recently revealed that the storm, which was once an oval, is now quite circular and measures just under 16,500 kilometres (10,253 miles) across. That’s quite a contrast in comparison with its former widest point, which once spanned 41,000 kilometres (25,476 miles). It was previously big enough to fit three Earths inside.

Astronomers have always known that Jupiter’s spot would reduce in size and, since 2012, the storm is getting smaller by around 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) per year.

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