Monster Saturn storm ate its own tail


Since gas giants are made up of, well, gas, it’s easy for giant storms to form around them. Saturn and Jupiter are always peppered with monster storms that ravage the planets. They don’t do any actual damage since there’s nothing there to damage, but they do make for some spectacular shots.

One of the biggest storm astronomers have seen on Saturn to date has met a curious fate. The storm was so big and fast that, as it circled around the planet it eventually caught up to itself.

The storm before it made it all the way around Saturn Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University

When it did, it lost all of its energy and eventually withered away. Scientists aren’t exactly sure why that happened, but there’s much we don’t know about the atmosphere of gas giants like Saturn.

While it lasted, the storm provided quite a spectacle. At its peak, it measured 300,000 km or 180,000 miles, three quarters of the way from the Earth to the moon, and it circled Saturn.

The storm’s progression
Image credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University

The storm lasted for 267 days from start to finish. The head of the storm, with the most violent activity, lasted for 201 days and was responsible for the largest vortex ever observed on Saturn, 12,000 km or 7,500 miles across.

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Nota Bene


Yanis Varoufakis


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