12 May 2010, JellyBean @ 3:29 pm

Jupiter has lost one of its iconic red stripes and scientists are baffled as to why.

The largest planet in our solar system is usually dominated by two dark bands in its atmosphere, with one in the northern hemisphere and one in the southern hemisphere.

However, the most recent images taken by amateur astronomers have revealed the lower stripe known as the Southern Equatorial Belt has disappeared leaving the southern half of the planet looking unusually bare.

The band was present in at the end of last year before Jupiter ducked behind the Sun on its orbit. However, when it emerged three months later the belt had disappeared.

Journalist and amateur astronomer Bob King, also known as Astro_Bob, was one of the first to note the strange phenomenon.

He said: ‘Jupiter with only one belt is almost like seeing Saturn when its rings are edge-on and invisible for a time – it just doesn’t look right.’

It is not the first time this unusual phenomenon has been noticed. Jupiter loses or regains one of its belts every ten of 15 years, although exactly why this happens is a mystery.

Read more:

Daily Mail

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