26 March 2015

A garden of storms

Jupiter's Great Red Spot probably began in one of two ways: It could have been a large, upward plume that hit the stratosphere and rolled up to produce a vortex. If a rising plume can reach upward to a part of the atmosphere that’s really stable, it will spread outward horizontally, and when it starts to spread out, if it’s in a really rapidly rotating system like Jupiter, the spreading out produces a vortex. The other possibility is that a jet stream went unstable and started a wavy oscillation, and when the amplitude of the wave became big enough, it broke, making vortices that then merged together.
Philip Marcus

Image: NASA via It's Okay to be Smart

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