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
JAN 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 12, 2020
TESS Finds its First Earth-Sized World in a Star's Habitable Region
Astronomers are continuously searching for exoplanets in the deepest reaches of our galaxy, and while the Kepler Space T ...
JAN 26, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 26, 2020
Betelgeuse Continues to Dim, But Why?
A nearby red supergiant star by the name of Betelgeuse has long been popular among astronomers, not only because of its ...
JAN 27, 2020
Space & Astronomy
JAN 27, 2020
How Dangerous is Radiation on Mars?
One of humankind’s most ambitious goals for the next decade is preparing to send astronauts to Mars for the very f ...
FEB 02, 2020
Space & Astronomy
FEB 02, 2020
NASA Officially Retires the Spitzer Space Telescope
NASA is always sending spacecraft into space to explore the universe around us; be it the close-proximity stellar neighb ...
MAR 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 30, 2020
If Gravity Has Mass, This Could Explain Dark Energy
The Big Bang purportedly transpired 13.8 billion years ago, and even so, the universe continues to expand even today. Bu ...
APR 05, 2020
Microbiology
APR 05, 2020
How Life Beneath the Sea Informs the Search for Life on Mars
Single-celled microbes that live beneath the floor of the ocean have provided insight into how scientists might be able ...
Loading Comments...