Since the launch of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope way back in 1990, it has been actively tracing the evolution and formation of galaxies, black holes, dark matter, and much more. Apart from these, the Hubble Telescope has been an active interplanetary weather observer for the gaseous outer planets. Now, Hubble has now recorded a stunning observation about the giant planet Jupiter.
Since the inauguration of the Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) Program of the telescope in 2014, it has provided us with fascinating ever-changing views of the giant planets. Through the program, Hubble has observed that Jupiter’s weather is predominantly stormy at low northern latitudes, displaying a distinct sequence of alternating storms that create a “vortex street” in astronomical terms.
NASA suggested that sometimes, these storms converge, resulting in a more intense and larger storm that could potentially rival the Great Red Spot’s size. Recently, on January 6, 2023, Jupiter’s orange-coloured moon Io was captured shining amidst the planet’s diverse clouds. Scientists and astronomers clarify that Io’s surface exhibits a range of colours due to the various hues sulfur takes on at different temperatures.
NASA’s Hubble observes weather change on Uranus
Meanwhile, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has also observed changes in the weather of Uranus. With its rotation axis weirdly tilted by just eight degrees from the plane of its orbit, Uranus exhibits a distinct “horizontal” orientation. A recent hypothesis suggests that the planet previously had a massive moon that caused gravitational instability, ultimately leading to a collision. NASA says that “the consequences of the planet’s tilt are that for stretches of time lasting up to 42 years, parts of one hemisphere are completely without sunlight.”
The north polar cap’s size and brightness have been under Hubble’s observation, and it has been consistently growing brighter with each passing year. Astronomers are engaged in the process of disentangling various factors such as atmospheric circulation, particle properties, and chemical processes to determine how they impact the polar cap’s seasonal transformations. Hubble’s latest view of Uranus suggests that the northern pole of the planet is now tilting toward the Sun. Notably, Hubble Telescope has compared the view of Uranus in 2014 versus 2022.