Jupiter's Great Red Spot shrinks, joined by massive white storm

Jupiter in August.
Jupiter in August. Photo credit: NASA

An enormous new storm has appeared on Jupiter, wider than the gas giant's infamous Great Red Spot.

The bright white plume appeared on August 18, astronomers say, and they've managed to get a crisp picture of it using the Hubble Space Telescope. 

The new storm, which appears in two distinct parts, is travelling around the planet at 560km/h.

"Trailing behind the plume are small, rounded features with complex 'red, white, and blue' colors in Hubble’s ultraviolet, visible, and near-infrared light image," NASA said in a statement, adding that the huge storm could be a new permanent feature.

"Such discrete features typically dissipate on Jupiter, leaving behind only changes in cloud colors and wind speeds, but a similar storm on Saturn led to a long-lasting vortex... This storm may last longer on Jupiter than most storms."

Jupiter's new storm.
Jupiter's new storm. Photo credit: NASA

Meanwhile, the Great Red Spot has shrunk. Once big enough to hold three Earths, the latest imagery from NASA shows it only has room for one.

"Hubble shows that the Great Red Spot, rolling counterclockwise in the planet’s southern hemisphere, is plowing into the clouds ahead of it, forming a cascade of white and beige ribbons," NASA said.

"The Great Red Spot is currently an exceptionally rich red color, with its core and outermost band appearing deeper red."

It's been shrinking for at least a century now.

Left of Jupiter the icy moon Europa can be seen.

Both were about 653 million kilometres from Earth when they were snapped by Hubble, which orbits Earth.