The mysterious Great Dark Spot on Neptune has been observed from Earth for the first time

Orbiting nearly 3 million miles from the sun, Neptune is distant from Earth. However, thanks to the development of science and technology, observing and studying this planet is becoming more and more convenient.

Using the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT), international astronomers recently observed a large dark spot in Neptune’s atmosphere, besides a smaller bright spot suddenly appearing.

In fact, Neptune, which has a “Great Dark Spot,” was first photographed by the Voyager 2 spacecraft passing by the planet in the 1980s. Analyzes then pointed out that this was an anticyclonic storm with an estimated area of about 13000×6600km – about the size of Earth, and with a shape quite similar to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot. However, when the Hubble Space Telescope tried to photograph this storm in 1994, it disappeared. on the planet’s atmosphere. Now, the large dark spot suddenly reappeared on Neptune in an observation from the European Southern Observatory’s VLT telescope system right from Earth.

Digging into the analysis, the scientists used an instrument on the VLT called MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) to collect spectral data that displays a 3D view of the dark spot by looking at the levels. vary in planetary atmospheres. Preliminary research suggests that this dark spot is caused by darker air particles that accumulate beneath the fog in Neptune’s atmosphere.

Coming to this conclusion is not easy because dark spots are not a fixed feature of Neptune’s atmosphere. At the same time, astronomers in the past have never been able to study them in detail.

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Notably, the researchers also found an unexpected bright spot next to the dark spot, believed to be an unusual type of cloud. Neptune’s dark spots usually occur in the troposphere at lower altitudes than the upper cloud features. Since they are stable structures that can last for several months, they are said to have a vortex structure.

Much remains to be elucidated, but this study shows that advances in science and technology have made it possible for researchers to learn more about the atmospheres of distant planets in the solar system. heaven from the ground.