Going Up: Jupiter’s Auroras Get Weirder Than Ever

Last week, the Juno mission flew over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot and sent back some spectacular close-ups. But I’m not ready to talk about that. Not yet. I’m still catching up on the Juno news from two months ago.

Toward the end of May, NASA released a ton of fresh data from Juno, including new information about Jupiter’s auroras. Astro-scientists had previously known about two sources contributing to these auroras: the solar wind and the Io plasma torus. Now Juno may have discovered a third.

As Juno flew over Jupiter’s poles, it detected electrically charged particles flying up.

I can’t emphasize enough how weird this is. I wanted to write about it right away, but I held off doing this post because I was sure I must have misunderstood what I was reading.

Auroras are caused by electrically charged particles accelerated down toward a planet’s magnetic poles. These particles ram into the atmosphere at high speed, causing atmospheric gases to luminesce. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. I guess nobody told Jupiter that.

In addition to the “normal” downward flow of particles from the Sun and Io, Jupiter’s magnetic field apparently dredges charged particles up from the planet’s interior and hurls them out into space. So Jupiter’s auroras are triggered by a mix of incoming and outgoing particles.

This definitely falls under the category of “further research is required.” Even now, I still feel like I must have misunderstood something. This is just too weird and too awesome to be true.

P.S.: As for the Great Red Spot, I’m waiting to hear something about the microwave data. We’re going to find out—finally!—just how far down that storm goes.

4 Responses to Going Up: Jupiter’s Auroras Get Weirder Than Ever

  1. oldbrew says:

    Reblogged this on Tallbloke's Talkshop and commented:
    Jupiter is living up to its billing as a ‘planet on steroids.
    http://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/jun/04/probe-jupiter-juno

    Like

  2. ferdberple says:

    What goes down must come up?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. meethiflyer says:

    The universe … such an amazing creation!
    𝗖𝗵𝗲𝗰𝗸 𝗼𝘂𝘁 𝗺𝘆 𝗻𝗲𝘄 𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗶𝗰𝗹𝗲 𝗼𝗻 💁 𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝑮𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒕 𝑹𝒆𝒅 𝑺𝒑𝒐𝒕 𝒐𝒇 𝑱𝒖𝒑𝒊𝒕𝒆𝒓 🌌
    https://unpluggedcreations.com/2017/08/18/the-great-red-spot-of-jupiter/

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: