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

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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