Going Up: Jupiter’s Auroras Get Weirder Than Ever

Posted: July 21, 2017 by oldbrew in Astrophysics, research, solar system dynamics

Jupiter is living up to its billing as a ‘planet on steroids’.

Planet Pailly

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…

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  1. JB says:

    What? Do they think that the flow of charged particles is a one-way event?

    Go to the back of the class and review the cross section of Birkeland currents. Review Kirchoff’s and Thevenin’s postulates on charge flow.

  2. oldbrew says:

    Jupiter’s complex transient auroras
    May 25, 2017

    ‘…the team was able to more precisely map out the process through which the sulfur gas emerging from Io’s powerful volcanoes is stored in the area far from Jupiter, transiently accelerated, transferred toward Jupiter, and channeled into Jupiter’s polar region where it drives the aurora. These findings were detected during a “transient brightening” of Jupiter’s aurora—with the phenomenon moving from the polar region toward the equator—that was detected in May 2016, as Juno was approaching. The data showed that the energy from Io’s gas emission was somehow transferred toward Jupiter at a speed approaching 400 to 800 kilometers per second in the equatorial region of the space around Jupiter.’ [bold added]

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2017-05-jupiter-complex-transient-auroras.html

  3. ivan says:

    JB, you must realise this is something in the Guardian and that paper is not noted for its strength in anything scientific.

    [mod note] it’s from the Planet Pailly website

  4. J.S. Pailly says:

    Hey thanks for reblogging this! That was really cool of you.

    In response to some of the comments here, I want to admit that I was a bit sloppy about citing sources for this post. It was a bit of a rush job, and that’s my fault.

    If you’re looking for more info, here’s the Juno mission presser from back in May. The part about the auroras starts around 20 minutes in. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6o9FiTf1vZE