Scientists solve 40-year mystery over Jupiter’s X-ray aurora

A team of researchers has solved the 40-year mystery on how Jupiter produces a stunning range of X-rays in every few mins.

The X-rays form a part of the planet’s aurora- the bursts of invisible and visible light that takes place when the charged particles interact with the atmosphere of the planet. Similar phenomenon takes place on Earth, producing northern lights; however, Jupiter’s phenomenon is more powerful, delivering a lot of energy gigawatts, which is enough to power all the human civilization briefly.

In the study, the researchers, co-led by UCL as well as Chinese Academy of Sciences, combined the closeup results of the Jupiter’s atmosphere by Nasa’s Juno satellite, which is presently orbiting it, with the X-ray measurements taken from XMM-Newton observatory.

The researchers found that periodic vibration from the magnetic field of Jupiter triggered the X-ray flares. These vibrations produce plasma waves that send ion particles along magnetic field until they hit into the Jupiter’s atmosphere, delivering energy as X-rays.

Dr. William Dunn, who co-led the study, said that the team has seen Jupiter creating X-ray aurora for nearly 40-years; however, they did not know until now how this phenomenon occurred. The only thing they knew was that these X-ray auroras were produced when the ions smashed into the Jupiter’s atmosphere, added Dunn.

The study appears in the journal Science Advances.

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