Tags: neptune | dark vortex | storm | hubble space telescope

Neptune's Dark Vortex Is Massive 3,000-Mile-Wide Storm

Image: Neptune's Dark Vortex Is Massive 3,000-Mile-Wide Storm
(NASA)

By    |   Friday, 24 Jun 2016 11:19 AM

Scientists confirmed the presence of a dark vortex in Neptune's atmosphere using images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.

Similar features have been seen in 1989 and 1994, but this is the first time a dark vortex was observed on the planet during this century, NASA said on its website. Scientists also observed bright "companion clouds" that accompany the high-pressure weather systems.

"Dark vortices coast through the atmosphere like huge, lens-shaped gaseous mountains," University of California at Berkeley research astronomer Mike Wong said in the statement. "And the companion clouds are similar to so-called orographic clouds that appear as pancake-shaped features lingering over mountains on Earth."

The more easily visible companion clouds are the first hint that a new dark vortex has formed, Space.com explained. They form when air flowing on the planet is pushed to higher elevations by a dark vortex, causing gases to freeze.

The dark vortex is about 3,000 miles across, and was first noticed by Hubble's Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project in September. Researchers took a second look on May 16 of this year.

These storms are constantly changing and can last for years, Engadget reported. Similar features on Jupiter can last for decades.

With data from OPAL, scientists were able to create a map of the storm and its surroundings and hope to use it to better understand how dark vortices form, move, change, interact with the environment, and dissipate.

Twitter users were fascinated by the unique weather feature.




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Scientists confirmed the presence of a dark vortex in Neptune's atmosphere using images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope.
neptune, dark vortex, storm, hubble space telescope
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2016-19-24
Friday, 24 Jun 2016 11:19 AM
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