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Hubble discovers mysterious dark storm on Neptune: NASA

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

The Space Telescope has uncovered a new mysterious dark storm on and provided a fresh look at a long-lived storm circling around the north polar region on Uranus, said.

Like Earth, and have seasons, which likely drive some of the features in their atmospheres, according to the US space agency.

However, their seasons are much longer than on our planet, spanning decades rather than months, said in a statement.

The storm appeared during the planet's southern summer, the fourth and latest mysterious dark vortex captured by since 1993.

Two other dark storms were discovered by the Voyager 2 spacecraft in 1989 as it flew by the remote planet, said.

Since then, only has had the sensitivity in blue light to track these elusive features, which have appeared and faded quickly.

A study led by Andrew Hsu, an undergraduate student at the University of California, in the US, estimated that the dark spots appear every four to six years at different latitudes and disappear after about two years.

Hubble uncovered the latest storm in September last year in Neptune's northern hemisphere. The feature is roughly 6,800 miles across.

To the right of the dark feature are bright white "companion clouds." Hubble has observed similar clouds accompanying previous vortices.

Like Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the dark vortices swirl in an anti-cyclonic direction and seem to dredge up material from deeper levels in the ice giant's atmosphere.

The Hubble observations show that as early as 2016, increased cloud activity in the region preceded the vortex's appearance.

The images indicate that the vortices probably develop deeper in Neptune's atmosphere, becoming visible only when the top of the storm reaches higher altitudes.

The snapshot of Uranus, like the image of Neptune, reveals a dominant feature: a vast bright stormy cloud cap across the north pole.

Scientists believe this new feature is a result of Uranus' unique rotation. Unlike every other planet in the solar system, is tipped over almost onto its side.

Because of this extreme tilt, during the planet's summer the Sun shines almost directly onto the north pole and never sets.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, February 08 2019. 16:15 IST