Scientists made a surprising discovery during dawn hours as they noticed that Neptune is fostering a storm system about as big as our planet. As this was spotted during hours when it wasn’t completely dark outside, it makes this not a single but a double first time ever.
Ned Molter, a University of California, Berkeley graduate student of astronomy is the first to have noticed this storm complex.
“Seeing a storm this bright at such a low latitude is extremely surprising. Normally, this area is really quiet and we only see bright clouds in the mid-latitude bands, so to have such an enormous cloud sitting right at the equator is spectacular,” Molter was reported as stating.
Earth-Sized Storm System Stirring Things up on Neptune
This gigantic storm system was approximated as being some 5,600 miles in length, which is almost twice more than the longest distance between the west and coast of the United States (2,900 miles).
The storm appeared to be at its brightest in between June 26 and July 02. During this time, it was also noted to be saddled over at least 30 degrees in longitude and latitude over Neptune. The storm system spanned about a third of the planet’s radius.
According to a statement, the Earth-sized storm system might be caused by “a huge, high-pressure, dark vortex system”. One presumably anchored deep within the atmosphere of Neptune.
Scientists also believe that this might be a seasonal weather event, one that might take place “every few decades or so”. Neptune’s storm clouds are most likely composed out of methane, which starts cooling down as it rises in a vortex.
Besides the massive size of the storm, another interesting thing about it is when it was discovered. Reportedly, Molter first spotted this storm system during a dawn test in the twilight hours at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Maunakea, Hawaii.
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