Hubble Captures Jupiter's Brilliant Aurora

Posted by K R on

Days before the Juno spacecraft is scheduled to arrive, astronomers have captured an enormous aurora at the north pole of Jupiter. The imagery, released this week, was taken back on May 19 using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope as part of a program to study how solar wind affects auroras on Jupiter.
The video above was created by pairing many far-ultraviolet images from Hubble with a full-color disk of Jupiter that was photographed at a different time. Like on Earth, an aurora is produced when highly charged particles interact with the atmosphere. For Earthlings, the light show begins with our incredibly active sun, which sends charged particles, in the form of solar wind, out into the solar system. In addition to the sun, Jupiter has an additional source to charged particles: its volcanic moon, Io.
Montage of an image of Jupiter and a separate image of Io taken by the New Horizons spacecraft in 2008 / Image courtesy of NASA
For both Earth and Jupiter, these charged particles ultimately hit magnetic fields, which direct the particles to the north and south poles.

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