Originally posted by iterationzero
reply to post by spikey
Jupiter has recently baffled scientists by losing it's 300 year old 'great red spot'
Um... no. Check whatever article you read again. The spot is still there.
and one of it's thousands of miles wide, major 'banding rings'
This is true.
that has always been there...
Um... no. Do a little fact checking. The same belt disappeared in the 70's and again in the 90's. It reappeared each time.
Apologies, i was confusing two different facts that were swirling around my sleep deprived brain, however...
Maybe you'd be interested to learn the 'Great Red Spot' (GRS) has shrunk in size in just the period of a decade or two, estimated by NASA in 2006
at approximately a 15% reduction in it's size or roughly 1km per day...since we have been viewing the thing for the last 300 - 400 years, a decrease
of this amount in just a couple of decades is significant...at the least, it's not insignificant.
May 20, 2010: In a development that has transformed the appearance of the solar system's largest planet, one of Jupiter's two main cloud belts
has completely disappeared. "This is a big event," says planetary scientist Glenn Orton of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. "We're monitoring the
situation closely and do not yet fully understand what's going on."
The SEB (Southern Equatorial Band) that has recently disappeared, also happens to be situated in the region occupied by the Great Red Spot..in fact,
the GRS straddles the (now gone or obscured) SEB.
The band disappeared while Jupiter was unobservable to Earth based scopes, during it's occultation by the sun (it was on the opposite side of the sun
to Earth, for quite some time) in 2009 - 2010.
Yes, the SEB has diminished before, although it is not a regular occurrence...the 'sit up and take notice' aspect for me personally, is the apparent
'acceleration' of the frequency of the cycle (if it even is a cycle).
In recent times, the fading of the SE Band has been recorded in 1973-75, 1989-90, 1993, 2007 and now a disappearance in 2009/2010- present.
Notice the speeding up or increased frequency of the phenomena?
Notice also, this increase in speed seems to correlate with the time period for the GRS shrinking...
Nobody apparently knows why it happens...the completeness of the 'disappearance' of the SEB on this occasion is strange, when this phenomena has
been recorded previously, it has merely faded to greater or lesser degrees, but as far as i can tell, it hasn't dissipated as completely as it has
now...couple this together with the surprisingly sudden (relatively) diminishing size of the GRS, situated in the same area, and we have a mystery.
As for my wild speculation about a potential 'wandering Brown Dwarf', it's just that...wild speculation (of course!).
It would be emitting light in the IR spectrum (and thus be hidden unless properly equipped to view such a body), and yes, it would be a massive gas
giant, along the lines of a 'Super Jupiter'.
Allowing my imagination to run, and knowing that it could originate in or orbit through the Oort cloud asteroid area, it is not much of a leap to
think that as a massive (gravity) object it would amass quite a following of Oort cloud and Kuiper belt bodies, shepherding them along and around
itself and would have had many, many such bodies impacting it.
Look up what colour the upper atmosphere of Jupiter changes to when it has an impact... Add to that a number of these Oort cloud and Kuiper belt
objects may indeed be comprised of similar materials as the 'blacker than black' planet discovered, which absorbs up to 95% (or more) of the light
it receives and one could imagine a scenario where a large and massive body, such as a BD could go undetected.
Tying the Jupiter banding and GRS shrinking issues, the apparent accelerating frequency of their phenomena and speculation about a Massive Brown Dwarf
mentioned above, it IS NOT as unreasonable or as outlandish a notion in suggesting a possible, if tenuous and speculatory linkage between the two, as
some people would have us all imagine.
This pretty much answers another post or two below too.
Hope you found this reply informative and helpful.