Hubble Telescope confirms presence of dark vortex on Neptune

After using data from Hubble Telescope, astronomers have informed that an interesting spot detected on Neptune is a dark vortex. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope detected this high-pressure system when bright clouds pointed towards its existence.

According to astronomer Mike Wong, of the University of California at Berkeley, Dark vortex can travel through atmosphere like huge, lens-shaped gaseous mountains. Wong led the team that analyzed the Hubble’s data and confirmed presence of Dark vortex.

The group of clouds is identical to organic clouds that appear as pancake-shaped features over mountains on Earth. It measures roughly 3,000 miles (4,800 kilometers) across, and is located in the planet’s southern hemisphere. High-altitude clouds cross the planet at its poles and equator.

Both professional and amateur astronomers began noticing the bright clouds on Neptune in July 2015. The companion clouds come into existence when air flowing on the planet is disturbed and moves upward by a dark vortex. When at great altitude, the gas freezes into methane crystals, forming clouds. It is first evidence of a newly formed vortex as they are only visible at blue wavelengths.

Hubble’s Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) project was formed to create global maps of outer residents of the solar system. In September 2015, researchers turned the project toward Neptune. After studying OPAL’s map, Wong and his team discovered a dark spot near the bright clouds.

The second observation of Neptune was conducted on May 16, 2016 using Hubble, which is the only telescope with the resolution enough to identify weather features on Neptune. The feature was confirmed after the second attempt to analyze data from Hubble.

Voyager 2 and Hubble helped reveal similar feature on Neptune. The new feature is first one to be spotted over past 20 years.

According to a story published on the topic by Nature World News, “According to NASA, this is the first observation of a dark vortex in Neptune in the 21st century. Past observations have occurred in 1989 via the Voyager 2 and in 1994 via the Hubble Telescope. The most famous dark spot discovery in Neptune was in 1989. Tagged as the Great Dark Spot, it was located in Neptune’s southern atmosphere and is approximately as large as the Earth, The Verge reports.”

The Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) captured the said dark spot on Neptune in September 2015. To better observe the phenomenon, the team created a higher-quality map of the dark vortex and its surrounding using the new images from Hubble. Wong and his team announced the discovery on May 17, 2016 in a Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams (CBAT) electronic telegram.

There is still limited data about dark vortices. Through this third sighting, scientists in NASA hope to learn more about the origin of dark vortices, their behavior as well as how they interact with Neptune’s surroundings through continued observation.

A report published in ValueWalk informed, “The Hubble telescope is a bad ass and I only hope that we don’t forget the incredible work and imagery it has given us,. Hubble working together with a functioning (fingers crossed) James Webb Space telescope in a little over a year’s time will only prove Hubble’s value and the imagery from its new friend will be stunning.”

The James Webb Space Telescope will be roughly seven times as powerful as Hubble and take a position about four times as far from the Earth as the moon’s orbit. That’s if it works. The telescope will need to assemble itself. It you remember the Hubble launch, it didn’t work when launched well over 25 years ago. Thankfully, we has a space shuttle program to repair it and upgrade it four times. In theory, the Hubble will work like a spotter for the better sniper, scan for targets and let the new telescope take it from there.

The bright clouds observed are a result of normal air flows being pushed upwards by a dark vortex where the gases freeze into methane crystals and form visible clouds outside of blue wavelengths. Following the observations by amateur astronomers as well as professionals in 2015, NASA started the project known as Hubble’s Outer Planet Atmospheres Legacy (OPAL) to map the outer planets of our solar system and Hubble as turned to Neptune in September of last year.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *