The distant blue planets of our solar system, Uranus and Neptune, are now showing more storms than ever throughout the year as they are going through extended summer seasons. NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope snapped the two distant worlds in September and November 2018 and, besides the beautiful blue hues these planets present, a mysterious dark vortex on Neptune intrigued the researchers.
The dark vortex, a massive storm, in other words, hit the Neptune’s northern hemisphere. The dark patch that is a 6,800-mile-wide storm is visible on Neptune, accompanied by some whiteish companion clouds, as NASA called them. That’s not the first time when scientists witnessed a so-called “mysterious dark vortex” on Neptune.
Voyager 2, for example, has observed two massive storms forming up on Neptune in 1989, while NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope, which is has been following Neptune from time to time since 1993, also spotted three such hurricanes similar to the recently observed mysterious dark vortex on Neptune.
NASA Reported a Mysterious Dark Vortex on Neptune
However, even though these massive storms are not rare on Neptune, NASA has no clue why and how these dark vortices form in the methane-rich atmosphere of the fourth-largest planet in our solar system. That’s why the US space agency calls them “mysterious.” Obviously, there are some theories.
In 2016, NASA spotted some more white clouds than usual in a region. Eventually, in that area, a mysterious dark vortex formed. The scientists hypothesized that these large vortices born deep in the Neptune’s atmosphere, where gases like helium and hydrogen are more prevalent than in the upper atmosphere. Then, the dark hurricanes rise, becoming visible to us thanks to NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
Analyzing the atmospheres of distant planets isn’t at all an easy feat while studying Neptune’s is even more challenging since the planet orbits the Sun at a distance of 2.7 billion miles away from the Earth. Accordingly, it’s trickier to estimate precisely how a mysterious dark vortex like the one recently observed forms.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.