TechJupiter's Great Blue Spot: Unlocking the secrets of an intense magnetic anomaly

Jupiter's Great Blue Spot: Unlocking the secrets of an intense magnetic anomaly

Soon Jupiter will be in great opposition.
Soon Jupiter will be in great opposition.
Images source: © Pixabay
3:55 PM EDT, March 11, 2024
"It's a mystery. We don't know why this place is such an anomaly," said Yohau Kaspi from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel, a researcher involved in NASA's Juno mission, during an interview with Space portal.
This anomaly, situated near Jupiter's equator, is closely associated with the planet's magnetic field activity. Although dubbed the Great Blue Spot, the region isn't actually blue. The name stems from the color scale utilized in mapping Jupiter's magnetic field.

In an effort to closely scrutinize this anomaly, known for its exceptionally intense magnetic field—up to 20 times stronger than Earth's—research scientists have analyzed atmospheric jets observed by the Juno probe in recent years. These jets consist of strong and weak discharges occurring within Jupiter's atmosphere. Newly discovered insights suggest that, akin to ocean waves altering speed as they move, a similar process might be happening deep within Jupiter's core. This could be the power source behind the magnetic field observed on its surface.

The recent discovery reveals that a jet can meander through the area of the Great Blue Spot, reaching depths of up to 1.86 miles. However, Jupiter's magnetic field restricts the jet's movement at this depth, causing it to travel considerably slower—at a pace of a few inches per second—compared to the surface jets.
"The discovery is a very marginal measurement," Kaspi clarified, highlighting the preliminary nature of this finding. He pointed out the need for further probing, as scientists require more solid data to thoroughly study the jet behaviors around the Great Blue Spot.
Currently, scientists hypothesize that the Great Blue Spot undergoes periodic changes in magnetic field strength, linked to the convective flow deeply beneath the planet's surface. These changes are thought to occur every four years. However, due to the data on Jupiter being recorded for only five years, Kaspi stresses that "nothing can be said about the four-year period." Further data collection by Juno will be instrumental in advancing our comprehension of Jupiter's complex magnetic field dynamics.
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