Friday, 31 October 2014
Jupiter's ‘one-eyed giant Cyclops’ captured by Hubble
A stunning event captured by NASA’s Hubble Telescope shows a big black eye staring back from Jupiter's Great Red Spot storm. In reality, it is shadow play on a planetary scale.
The image was captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope as it tracked changes in Jupiter’s immense Great Red Spot storm – a storm that has been raging for over 300 years. The black eye is caused by the shadow of the Jovian moon, Ganymede, sweeping across the center of the storm.
“For a moment, Jupiter stared back at Hubble like a one-eyed giant Cyclops,” a NASA spokesman told the Daily Express.
The Great Red Spot, the largest known vortex in the Solar System at 10,000 miles wide, is a persistent anti-cyclonic storm just south of Jupiter's equator. It has been raging for between 300 and 400 years, blowing winds at 345 miles an hour – speeds that are beyond comparison with even an Earthly Category 5 hurricane, which can only maximize up to 200 miles.
Astronomers are only beginning to fully understand the complexity of Jupiter, a gas giant which has a mass 317 times bigger than Earth. The planet has 62 moons – including four large ones called the Galilean moons, first discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. Ganymede is the largest of these moons.