Jupiter's Northern Lights

(Composite image by NASA/European Space Agency)

Have you ever seen the aurora borealis or the aurora australis? They're wonders to behold, but auroras are not limited to Earth. Jupiter has them, too. NASA and the European Space Agency has recently been training the far-seeing Hubble Space Telescope on nearby Jupiter. It reveals ultraviolet auroras larger than the Earth itself. The Juno space probe, which will enter Jovian orbit on July 4, will study them in detail.

PBS NewsHour describes the auroras:

This light display is even more spectacular during a solar storm. Scientists based in London recently discovered that Jupiter’s X-ray auroras become “eight times brighter than normal and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth’s aurora borealis” during a solar storm. […]

Aside from emitting UV and X-ray light, the northern lights of Jupiter also paint the air in red, green and purple. The planet’s strong magnetic field — at times 20,000 times stronger than Earth’s — attracts charged particles not only from solar wind, but from those spewed by supervolcanic explosions on Io, its moon. The eruptions brighten the blue auroras on Jupiter, and the Hubble and Juno partnership aims to look deeper into the phenomenon.

-via Nag on the Lake


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