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Holy disappearing belts, Batman! It turns out that one of Jupiter's major features — its South Equatorial Belt (south is at the top in the photos below) — is gone. Why? Astronomers have no idea, but theorize that intense storm activity is hiding it. They also have no idea how long the belt will remain invisible.


Click the image to see the story.

What a disappointment for astronomers: This is a particularly beautiful feature to observe in a telescope. On the other hand, seeing the newly nekkid world is a rare treat. Because this isn't the first time this has happened, scientists expect the South Equatorial Belt to return one day. Still, in the immortal words of Keanau Reeves, "Whoah."

Chris

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Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
xjenavivex
May. 14th, 2010 06:39 pm (UTC)
I read about this yesterday. Thank you for the pictures. I can't believe it's "gone." I sent you a message on LJ.
mckitterick
May. 15th, 2010 04:46 am (UTC)
Isn't it wild?

Not sure what message you mean - a comment to a different post?
xjenavivex
May. 15th, 2010 02:39 pm (UTC)
No. You know how users can send other users private messages that go to their inboxes? That's what I sent.
mckitterick
May. 16th, 2010 04:33 am (UTC)
Huh! Didn't realize I had a special email inbox on LJ! I'll look....
miischelle
May. 14th, 2010 07:22 pm (UTC)
It looks all naked.
mckitterick
May. 15th, 2010 04:45 am (UTC)
Nekkid planets!
clevermanka
May. 14th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
That's really weird looking. Wow. I agree with miischelle. Looks naked.
mckitterick
May. 15th, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)
I know! I hope it comes back soon.
minnehaha
May. 14th, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
What earthy (har) good is it to put south end up in those pictures?

K.
mckitterick
May. 15th, 2010 04:44 am (UTC)
That's just how optics make it look! Some places modify the images to swap how things would look in person, but looks like NASA didn't! Maybe it's to show us how it would look in a telescope.
tully01
May. 15th, 2010 03:27 pm (UTC)
The belt is missing, but speculation is that it still has suspenders.
mckitterick
May. 16th, 2010 04:30 am (UTC)
I'd never thought of Jupiter as a belt-and-suspenders planet, but there you go.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )