Hubble Telescope Captures Vivid Auroras In Jupiter's Atmosphere

Posted: Jul 2 2016, 7:04am CDT | by , Updated: Jul 2 2016, 5:48pm CDT, in | Latest Science News

 
Hubble Telescope Captures Vivid Auroras in Jupiter's Atmosphere
Credits: NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols (University of Leicester)

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These observations are supported by the measurements of Juno spacecraft which is about to arrive at Jupiter.

Just days before Juno spacecraft's arrival at Jupiter’s orbit, NASA astronomers have captured an enormous aurora glowing in the planet’s atmosphere. Juno is scheduled to reach the largest planet in our solar system on July 4.

The extraordinary vivid blue glow, visible in the north pole of the planet, is called aurora and auroras are created when high energy particles interact with the planet’s atmosphere near its magnetic poles. These auroras on Jupiter’s atmosphere may look similar to the auroras or Northern Lights generated on Earth, but in reality they are brighter and hundreds of times more energetic than those of Earth. Moreover, auroras on Earth appear on temporally basis while on Jupiter they never stop and continue to give out steady shining.

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

A photo posted by NASA (@nasa) on

As we all know Juno is on its way to Jupiter, it is helping scientists to improve their understanding about the planet and its atmosphere. While Hubble Space Telescope is observing auroras in detail, Juno is measuring the properties of solar wind which are important to generate auroras on planet’s atmosphere.

Using Hubble Space Telescope's Imaging Spectrograph, scientists have been closely observing shift and changes in Jupiter’s aurora almost daily for several months. Combining this data with Juno’s observations in coming months will help them understand how solar winds affect auroras on Jupiter. How the particles rain down on the planet’s atmosphere, collide with atoms of gas and cause them to illuminate.

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