Jupiter, the fifth planet from the Sun, is an immensely large place, with various fascinating moons. However, when it comes to Jupiter itself, the most interesting thing about the largest planet is its great red spot. Over the last few years, scientists have noted that its spot is inexplicably shrinking at an ever-increasing speed. In order to figure out how and why, astronomers have pointed Hubble’s powerful lens at Jupiter, monitoring any and all changes in the storm’s size,

In this newly-released image — taken on April 21st, 2014, during its usual rounds— Hubble captured a spooky image, where Jupiter’s Great Red Spot appears to have an eye.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) (See a larger image here)

It should go without saying that Jupiter didn’t suddenly spring an eye. Rather, the black spot is an optical illusion of some kind; a shadow cast by Ganymede — the largest of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons (and the largest moon in our solar system, for that matter) — when it photo-bombed Jupiter from our vantage point.

From NASA:

As for the Great Red Spot itself, as we previously discussed, astronomers haven’t quite figured out why the storm is shrinking at an accelerating speed, They do, however, know that if it keeps happening at the current rate, it will disappear completely 17 years from now. 

Jupiter’s Storm is Shrinking (Credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)

Right now, the working theory puts forth the notion that the small eddies feeding it are somehow siphoning its strength, disrupting the very same mechanisms that keep the storm brewing in the first place.

[su_divider top=”no” text=”Go back to top” size=”2″] Read more about Jupiter’s composition here, or find out what it would be like to spend a day in Jupiter’s “Great Red Spot. Jupiter might also host liquid oceans deep beneath its clouds. 


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