Jupiter's moons create uniquely patterned aurora on the gas giant planet

July 05, 2018

New images from the Juno spacecraft show an unusual "footprint" of Jupiter's moons on their parent planet's aurorae. The data reveal that, rather than casting one "shadow" in Jupiter's aurorae, the moon Io - Jupiter's fifth - casts several, in a double wing-shaped pattern, while Jupiter's largest moon, Ganymede, casts a double shadow. The stunning phenomenon of aurorae - beautiful colorful tendrils above the atmospheres of planets - occurs when electrically charged particles accelerate along the planet's magnetic field lines and then interact with the upper atmosphere. Jupiter's massive moons alter this phenomenon on the gas giant planet by directing the streams of charged particles. These large lunar bodies decorate the planet with unusual auroral patterns, previously seen as a bright spot "footprint" of each nearby moon in Jupiter's north and south hemispheres. Alessandro Mura and colleagues use new images from the Juno spacecraft, which provide much more detailed data on the planet's aurorae, to reveal not just one "footprint" from the moon Io, but a trail of many evenly spaced bright spots that are roughly the size of the moon itself. The pattern created resembles a trail of swirling vortices in both hemispheres, one that sometimes splits into two wing-shaped arcs. Similarly, the researchers found that the moon Ganymede generates a double auroral footprint, that was not previously observed. The authors speculate that these unusual patterns could be caused by magnetic interactions close to the moons, or by interference between giant waves of electrical particles.
-end-


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Related Planet Articles from Brightsurf:

Astronomers discover planet that never was
What was thought to be an exoplanet in a nearby star system likely never existed in the first place, according to University of Arizona astronomers.

The ocean responds to a warming planet
The oceans help buffer the Earth from climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide and heat at the surface and transporting it to the deep ocean.

About the distribution of biodiversity on our planet
Large open-water fish predators such as tunas or sharks hunt for prey more intensively in the temperate zone than near the equator.

Sub-Neptune sized planet validated with the habitable-zone planet finder
A signal originally detected by the Kepler spacecraft has been validated as an exoplanet using the Habitable-zone Planet Finder.

Feeding the world without wrecking the planet is possible
A study led by researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) now suggests a comprehensive solution package for feeding 10 billion people within our planet's environmental boundaries.

A planet that should not exist
Astronomers detected a giant planet orbiting a small star. The planet has much more mass than theoretical models predict.

A Goldilocks zone for planet size
Harvard University researchers described a new, lower size limit for planets to maintain surface liquid water for long periods of time, extending the so-called Habitable or 'Goldilocks'' Zone for small, low-gravity planets.

A second planet in the Beta Pictoris system
A team of astronomers led by Anne-Marie Lagrange, a CNRS researcher, has discovered a second giant planet in orbit around β Pictoris, a star that is relatively young (23 million years old) and close (63.4 light years), and surrounded by a disk of dust.

How plants are working hard for the planet
As the planet warms, plants are working to slow the effect of human-caused climate change -- and research published today in Trends in Plant Science has assessed how plants are responding to increasing carbon dioxide (CO2).

More support for Planet Nine
Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin offer further clues about Planet Nine.

Read More: Planet News and Planet Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.