Red Spot Jr. grows on Jupiter
For the past few months, astronomers have tracked an emerging second red spot on Jupiter, a growing rival about half the diameter of the planet's trademark Great Red Spot.
The Hubble Space Telescope (http://news.com.com/2300-11397_3-6064474-1.html?tag=nl) has now snapped the first detailed pictures of what some observers are calling Red Spot Jr.
Astronomers at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore said this is the first time scientists have witnessed the birth of one of these huge oval spots, presumably a convective phenomenon like a powerful thunderstorm.
The Great Red Spot was already present when observers first looked with telescopes at the planet some 400 years ago.
Although Red Spot Jr. is half the size, the astronomers said it appeared in near-infrared images to be as bright in Jupiter's cloudy atmosphere as its large companion. They suggested that the new storm might rise higher above the main cloud deck than the older spot.
The pictures made public Thursday by NASA do not represent the planet's true colors. Their contrast has been enhanced. But the red spots, new and old, really are red.