Research

Jovian Auroras

Like Earth, Jupiter has polar auroras.

Like Earth, Jupiter is home to polar auroras that light the sky as charged particles interact with the planet’s magnetosphere. A recent paper identifies interesting features in the aurora that appear similar to expanding vortex rings (see inset below). Although the researchers cannot yet identify the origin of the rings, they hypothesize that the process begins at the far edges of Jupiter’s magnetosphere where it interacts with the incoming solar wind. One theory posits that shear flows and Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities where the magnetosphere and solar wind meet drive the phenomenon. (Image credit: Jupiter – NASA, ESA, and J. Nichols, aurora features – NASA/SWRI/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/V. Hue/G. R. Gladstone/B. Bonfond; research credit: V. Hue et al.; via Gizmodo)

Diagram showing an inset of Jupiter's northern aurora, with further insets showing the expanding ring features.
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