JUL 02, 2016 10:28 AM PDT

Jupiter's Poles Give Off a Light Show Ahead of 4th of July

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Jupiter has long been a mystery, and that’s why when NASA’s Juno spacecraft gets close to our solar system’s largest gas planet this Independence Day, we’re going to see just what Jupiter’s gassy atmosphere is really like.
 
Of course, right before Juno gets there, NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope just happened to find something interesting within the ultraviolet spectrum; the planet’s poles were demonstrating a very bright light show that looks similar to the Aurora Borealis here on Earth.
 

This infrared image taken of Jupiter in 2007 shows its aurora glowing intensely.

 Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SwRI/R.Gladstone et al.; Optical: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage (AURA/STScI)

“These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen”, says Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, UK, and principal investigator of the study. “It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a firework party for the imminent arrival of Juno.”
 

This is the most recent image, captured by Hubble.

 Image Credit: NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

Jupiter’s auras are created by the entry of high energy particles into the planet’s gassy atmosphere, which then collide with atoms that reside there. They are hundreds of times larger and more energetically intense than those here on Earth.
 
They are very unique, because unlike Earth-like auroras, Jupiter’s keep on going...
 
NASA explains in a statement that Jupiter has two sources for its auroras; not only do charged particles slam into the planet’s atmosphere, but also from particles that get thrown by the planet’s impressively-powerful magnetic field that spins with the planet’s 10-hour rotation and meets friction as it moves.
 
This isn’t the first time that Jupiter’s aurora has been spotted; it was first seen in 1979 by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft, but the fact this has happened just as Juno’s arrival at the planet is expected, is quite the surprise for scientists who are closely monitoring the planet and Juno’s arrival.
 
When Juno gets there, it will attempt study the planet’s atmospheric composition, atmospheric pressure, gravitational effects, and magnetic field among other things. Before then, however, Juno faces the task of equalizing itself in Jupiter’s orbit, something that has never been attempted before.
 
Admittedly, some astronomers are a little wary about the insertion process and don’t yet know what to expect. It’s possible that the spacecraft could fail to place itself into orbit entirely due to the violent conditions.

Source: NASA via The Register

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
JUN 25, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Fast Radio Bursts: The Mysterious Cosmic Signals Just Got More Mysterious
JUN 25, 2020
Fast Radio Bursts: The Mysterious Cosmic Signals Just Got More Mysterious
Since the first discovery thirteen years ago, fast radio bursts (FRBs), a type of short radio pulses, have been fascinat ...
JUL 13, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Star Cluster Born Outside of Our Galaxy is Discovered in the Milky Way
JUL 13, 2020
Star Cluster Born Outside of Our Galaxy is Discovered in the Milky Way
Scientists have reported the discovery of a vast stream of stars called Nyx in the vicinity of the sun.
JUL 25, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Mammalian Cells May Have Trouble Fighting Space Bugs
JUL 25, 2020
Mammalian Cells May Have Trouble Fighting Space Bugs
New research has suggested that humans and other terrestrial mammals might have trouble identifying and responding to mi ...
JUL 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Bacteria More Lethal and Antibiotic Resistant in Space
JUL 27, 2020
Bacteria More Lethal and Antibiotic Resistant in Space
Research has shown that bacteria are more lethal and resistant to antibiotics when exposed to microgravity (a lack of gr ...
OCT 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
NASA Touches Down on the Surface of an Asteroid for a Sample
OCT 22, 2020
NASA Touches Down on the Surface of an Asteroid for a Sample
There was a time when scientists had to wait for an asteroid to fall to Earth before they could study one.
NOV 07, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
NOV 07, 2020
Scientists Detect Origin of Fast Radio Burst in Milky Way
Scientists have identified a burst of cosmic radio waves- intense flashes of radio emission that last just a few millise ...
Loading Comments...