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That giant red spot on Jupiter is shrinking faster than ever and astronomers don't know why

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This undated composite handout image provided by NASA, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the planet Jupiter and the The Great Red Spot in 2014, left; in 1995, top right; 2009, center right; and 2014, bottom right. Jupiter’s signature Great Red Spot is on a cosmic diet, shrinking rapidly before our eyes. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope calculate that the spot, a giant long-lasting storm, is narrowing by about 580 miles a year, much faster than before. In the late 1800s the red spot was an elongated oval 25,500 miles wide. Now it’s a svelte circle that’s 10,250 miles across. (AP Photo/NASA)

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This undated composite handout image provided by NASA, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, shows the planet Jupiter and the The Great Red Spot in 2014, left; in 1995, top right; 2009, center right; and 2014, bottom right. Jupiter’s signature Great Red Spot is on a cosmic diet, shrinking rapidly before our eyes. Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope calculate that the spot, a giant long-lasting storm, is narrowing by about 580 miles a year, much faster than before. In the late 1800s the red spot was an elongated oval 25,500 miles wide. Now it’s a svelte circle that’s 10,250 miles across. (AP Photo/NASA)

WASHINGTON - Jupiter's Great Red Spot seems to be on a cosmic diet, shrinking rapidly before our eyes.

Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope calculate that the spot, a giant long-lasting storm, is narrowing by about 580 miles a year, much faster than before.

In the late 1800s the red spot was an oval 25,500 miles (41,000 kilometres) wide. Now it's a circle that's 10,250 miles (16,500 kilometres) across.

Michael Wong, a scientist at the University of California, Berkeley, said the spot is a mystery. Astronomers don't know why it's red or shrinking, or what will happen next. If this pace continues, in 17 years the spot could be gone. Or it could stop at a smaller size.

Wong said one theory is the spot eats smaller storms, and that it is consuming fewer of them.

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