News Release 

Reports of Jupiter's Great Red Spot demise greatly exaggerated

Flaking of familiar vortex considered 'very natural state'

American Physical Society

IMAGE

IMAGE: A (false color) series of images capturing the repeated?flaking of red clouds from the GRS in the Spring of 2019. In the earliest image, the flaking is predominant?on the east... view more 

Credit: Chris Go

SEATTLE, November 25, 2019 - The shrinking of the clouds of the Great Red Spot on Jupiter has been well documented with photographic evidence from the last decade. However, researchers said there is no evidence the vortex itself has changed in size or intensity.

Philip Marcus, from the University of California, Berkeley, will explain why the pictures from astronomers, both professionals and amateur, are not telling the whole story about the Great Red Spot. His session, The Shedding of Jupiter's Red Flakes Does Not Mean It Is Dying, will take place at the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics 72nd Annual Meeting on Nov. 25 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle.

Marcus said the visible clouds hide the true size and nature of the vortex of the Great Red Spot. In the spring of 2019, observers photographed large red "flakes" being ripped from the familiar red spot, but Marcus said the flaking phenomena is a very natural state of a vortex with cloud coverage and not an indication of the Great Red Spot's death.

"I don't think its fortunes were ever bad," Marcus said. "It's more like Mark Twain's comment: The reports about its death have been greatly exaggerated."

Marcus discuss how smaller cloud formation bumped into the Great Red Spot, sometimes creating stagnation points, where the velocity abruptly stops, restarts and goes off in different directions. These points indicate where an approaching cloud shattered and created the flakes that were observed by astronomers.

"The loss of undigested clouds from the GRS through encounters with stagnation points does not signify the demise of the GRS," he said. "The proximity of the stagnation points to the GRS during May and June does not signify its demise. The creation of little vortices to the east, northeast of the GRS during the spring of 2019 and their subsequent merging with the GRS with some does not signify its demise."

Marcus said a secondary circulation, driven by the heating and cooling above and below the vortex, allows the Great Red Spot to continue to exist over the centuries, fighting off decay of its energy from viscosity, turbulence and heat loss.

###

USEFUL LINKS

Main meeting website: https://www.apsdfd2019.org/

Meeting technical program: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DFD19/Content/3770

Invited talks: http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/DFD19/APS_Invited

Hotel information: https://www.apsdfd2019.org/hotels

GALLERY OF FLUID DYNAMICS

At the Annual Meeting, The Gallery of Fluid Motion will consist of posters and videos submitted by attendees illustrating the science and beauty of fluid motion. More information can be found here: https://www.apsdfd2019.org/gallery-of-fluid-motion

PRESS REGISTRATION

We will grant free registration to credentialed journalists and professional freelance journalists. If you are a reporter and would like to attend, contact media@aps.org. We can also help with setting up interviews and obtaining images, sound clips or background information.

LIVE MEDIA WEBCAST

A press briefing featuring a selection of newsworthy research will be webcast live from the conference on Monday, Nov. 25. Times and topics to be announced. Members of the media should register in advance at https://webcast.apswebcasting.com/go/aps-nov25-19.

ABOUT DFD

The Division of Fluid Dynamics of the American Physical Society, established in 1947, exists for the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of the physics of fluids with special emphasis on the dynamical theories of the liquid, plastic and gaseous states of matter under all conditions of temperature and pressure. For more information about DFD, visit https://www.aps.org/units/dfd/.

ABOUT APS

The American Physical Society (APS) is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its outstanding research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. APS represents over 55,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world. For more information about APS, visit https://www.aps.org/.

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.