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At the poles of Jupiter, enormous cyclones swirl in neat geometric patterns that stay stable for years at a time, a phenomenon that remains unexplained and that scientists have said hints at the need for new physics. 

The hurricane-force storms were first discovered by NASA’s Juno mission, which has captured unprecedented observations of Jupiter since it arrived in orbit around the planet in 2016. In the planet’s northernmost region, a central cyclone is located near the pole, while eight others dance around it at lower circumpolar latitudes in an octagonal pattern. In the south, a similar cluster of five cyclones form the shape of a pentagon.

Now, scientists led by Andrew Ingersoll, who serves as Earle C. Anthony Professor of Planetary Sciences at the California Institute of Technology, have shed new light on the strange storms that encircle Jupiter’s north pole, each of which is about as large as the continental United States.

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