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Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar system is recognizable by its two distinct red strips - One in the Southern Hemisphere and the other in the Northern. However, recent photographs show that the lower strip also known as the Southern Equatorial belt, seems to have disappeared and, this is not the first time it has happened!
According to the experts, the band was very much present three months ago, just before the planet disappeared behind the sun, while in orbit. When it emerged a few weeks ago, the stripe had disappeared.
This phenomenon has been observed by space watchers every 10 -15 years and while nobody knows for sure why it happens experts have a theory.
Jupiter is a huge ball of gas and liquid. Its surface comprises of layers of red, brown, yellow and white clouds. The darker, denser clouds made of chemicals like Sulfur and Phosphorous, gravitate toward the bottom, while the lighter fluffier white clouds, formed from crystals of frozen ammonia, float on top.
Some scientists believe that the prominent two 'stripes' are merely areas where the white clouds are missing, revealing the reddish clouds underneath. Therefore, when one of the stripes 'disappears', it is only because it has been covered up by the lighter white clouds.
While it is not clear why this occurs only in the Southern Hemisphere and so rarely, one thing is for certain - The largest planet in our universe will find its missing stripe sooner or later! Meanwhile earthlings may get a rare opportunity to see (with a telescope) the one-striped Jupiter on September 24th, when it is as its closest distance to Earth.