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Hubble's new Jupiter close-up portrait thrills with swirls

Massive gas giant Jupiter steps into Hubble's spotlight with a fresh portrait featuring the planet's crazy churning storms.

Jupiter in all its glory, as seen by Hubble.

NASA, ESA, and A. Simon (GSFC)

Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system, is one of the most scenic. The gas giant's intricate bands of swirling clouds are on full display in a new Hubble Space Telescope close-up portrait. The glamour shot, released on Thursday, highlights Jupiter's famous Great Red Spot and raucous atmosphere.

NASA describes what we're seeing: "These bands, with alternating wind motions, are created by differences in the thickness and height of the ammonia ice clouds; the lighter bands rise higher and have thicker clouds than the darker bands."

The Great Red Spot is an anticyclone, a spinning storm larger than Earth that has been active for at least 150 years. NASA says the spot's winds can peak at 400 mph (644 kph).

Hubble captured the stunning image on Monday with Jupiter at a distance of 415 million miles (668 million kilometers) from Earth. Jupiter is currently at its closest point to Earth this year, giving it a brighter appearance in the night sky than usual.