Hubble Shows Just How Stormy Uranus Gets in The Summer

  • Hubble Shows Just How Stormy Uranus Gets in The Summer

Hubble Shows Just How Stormy Uranus Gets in The Summer

Uranus as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

Mysterious storms have been spotted raging on the surfaces of Uranus and Neptune in an annual check-up of the planets carried out by Nasa.

The space agency also spotted a new storm brewing on Neptune.

The vortex visible today, for example, has been developing since 2016, when the Hubble first captured a blaze of bright cloud activity against Neptune's icy blue depths.

According to NASA, the "mysterious dark vortex" is a storm that is a result of the ice giant's southern summer.

The frosty planet can be seen with a massive white cap dominating its northern pole, and as NASA explains in a new blog post its odd appearance is actually owed to its freakish orientation. It's the dark spot near the top of the planet and is somewhat mysterious, as these massive dark storms have been observed appearing and then vanishing relatively quickly. The cap, which may form due to seasonal changes in atmospheric flow, has become much more prominent than in previous observations dating back to the flyby of NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft, when the planet, in the throes of winter, looked bland.

This latest vortex was photographed by Hubble in September 2018 during a scan of Neptune's northern hemisphere. Rather, "it's caused mainly - at least in our models - by a lowering of the methane abundance above the main cloud deck accompanied by a possible slight increase in the haze opacity", he told Gizmodo. They are similar to clouds that appear as pancake-shaped features when air is pushed over mountains on Earth.

NASA estimates the vortex measures about 6,800 miles (10,940km) across and is joined by white "companion clouds" to the left and right of the mass.

The long, thin cloud to the left of the dark spot is a transient feature that is not part of the storm system. But like Jupiter's famed Great Red Spot, the dark storms seem to dredge up material from deeper levels of the planets' atmospheres. The giant is sporting a wide white spot across its north pole.

The white cap is most likely the result of the planet's unique rotation - unlike every other planet in the system, Uranus has made a decision to rotate counterclockwise.

The distant blue planets of our solar system, Uranus and Neptune, are now showing more storms than ever throughout the year as they are going through extended summer seasons.

The Hubble snapshots of Uranus reveal w monstrous white cap covering up the upper half of the planet. This leaves the sun shining non-stop onto its north pole during its long summer, likely resulting in widespread atmospheric changes. Additionally, both planets are considered as the Ice Giants: They have mantles of hydrogen and helium that surround a water-rich interior.

Like the Earth, Uranus and Neptune have seasons, which have their own characteristics. At the equator is another narrow cloud that encircles the planet.