Jupiter's Great Red Spot shrinking before our eyes
by Seth Borenstein, AP Science Writer
May 15, 2014 04:00 PM | 301 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This undated composite handout image provided by NASA, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the planet Jupiter and the The Great Red Spot in 2014, left; in 1995, top right; 2009, center right; and 2014, bottom right. Jupiter’s signature Great Red Spot is on a cosmic diet, shrinking rapidly before our eyes. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope calculate that the spot, a giant long-lasting storm, is narrowing by about 580 miles a year, much faster than before. In the late 1800s the red spot was an elongated oval 25,500 miles wide. Now it’s a svelte circle that’s 10,250 miles across. (AP Photo/NASA)
This undated composite handout image provided by NASA, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the planet Jupiter and the The Great Red Spot in 2014, left; in 1995, top right; 2009, center right; and 2014, bottom right. Jupiter’s signature Great Red Spot is on a cosmic diet, shrinking rapidly before our eyes. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope calculate that the spot, a giant long-lasting storm, is narrowing by about 580 miles a year, much faster than before. In the late 1800s the red spot was an elongated oval 25,500 miles wide. Now it’s a svelte circle that’s 10,250 miles across. (AP Photo/NASA)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — Jupiter's Great Red Spot seems to be on a cosmic diet, shrinking rapidly before our eyes.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope calculate that the spot, a giant long-lasting storm, is narrowing by about 580 miles a year, much faster than before.

In the late 1800s the red spot was an oval 25,500 miles wide. Now it's a circle that's 10,250 miles across.

Michael Wong, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the spot is a mystery. Astronomers don't know why it's red or shrinking, or what will happen next. If this pace continues, in 17 years the spot could be gone. Or it could stop at a smaller size.

Wong said one theory is the spot eats smaller storms, and that it is consuming fewer of them.



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