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The high temperatures of the largest planet in the solar system, so far unexplained, would be due to the acoustic waves produced by the vast anticyclonic storm known as Red Spot.
Above Jupiter‘s Great Red Spot, a place of incessant, thunderous storms, temperatures reach temperatures of at least 1,300 degrees Celsius, well above those of a flow of lava on Earth.
“This is the highest temperature we measured on the planet, and we have detected in the upper atmosphere,” says James O’Donoghue of Boston University, author of the new study.
The mechanism by which the biggest storm of the Solar System would be able to heat the gaseous layers that surround it is not yet clear, but according to a new study published in Nature, to warm the atmosphere would be the acoustic waves generated by those terrible storms, rising upward. The new data may well help solve a long standing problem in astronomy planetary. And ‘in fact for years that the measurements of the outer atmosphere temperatures of the planets seem too high to be attributed to only solar heating.
For example, on Jupiter solar heat should be able to heat the exosphere to just 26 degrees Celsius. But this atmospheric region has temperatures between 420 and 720 degrees, much higher than those expected as a result of solar heating. And even the spectacular auroras of the planet, which are warming the poles, are sufficient to explain the high temperature of Jupiter.
“We call it ‘energy crisis’, because it is an unsolved problem from the seventies to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune,” says O’Donoghue.
Now, new observations of the telescope of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii, have identified at least one heat source which is generating a hot area, localized though extremely extensive.
It is located on the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, where for centuries the trigger storms over an area at least equal to the diameter of the Earth. O’Donoghue and his colleagues have focused on one particular form of hydrogen, the H3 + ion, present in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter. Based on the relative intensity of the infrared light emitted from the ion, they have been able to calculate the gas temperature there where it is parked. And in that region – around 804 km – it is very hot.
Scientists have speculated that to heat the upper atmosphere of Jupiter are the sound waves – sound – produced by the storms of this area, making it vibrate gases. However it is unlikely that the Great Red Spot is capable of heating the entire planet, which means that the mystery of extreme temperatures persists Jupiter.
According to O’Donoghue, this discovery nonetheless suggests that even smaller storms and other atmospheric turbulence spread on the planet can contribute to its heating.