Scientists do not particularly favor twilight and dawn, because at this time there is little to see. They require maximum darkness. But Ned Molter proved that some objects can be observed at dusk. What? For example, a huge storm system on Neptune.
It is surprising to find a similar phenomenon at low latitude. Molter used the Keck Observatory to observe. Usually this part of the planet is quiet and is hidden behind a cloud layer, so it is simply amazing that we managed to see such a giant cloud right at the equator.
The massive system extends over 9000 km and covers approximately 30 degrees of latitude and longitude of Neptune. Molter noted an increase in brightness from June 26 to July 2. Most often, the clouds were noticed in the 15-60 degrees south. But never at the equator and with such a high level of brightness.
The Neptune images show a huge storm system near the equatorial line. The center occupies 9000 km (3/4 of earth size)
At first they thought that this is what Hubble noticed in 1994. But further studies have shown that position changes do not match. Neptune is different from us not only in scale, but also in the fact that its clouds are composed of methane. Winds vary with latitude, so the dark vortex is held at one point. Observations show that atmospheric dynamics passes through a mass of fundamental changes. So this may be some kind of seasonal event that happens every 10 years.
Planet of the Winds
Neptune is considered the most windy planet in our system, where the speed reaches 1000 miles per hour. Spends 160 years on the orbital pass, and the seasons last 40 years.
The discovery of cloud-based features was accomplished thanks to the Keck Visiting Scholars program, which allows students to contribute to research. Molter is one of 8 scientists enrolled in the program this year. The observatory improved the equipment so that it would be much more efficient to conduct research during twilight.