(CNN) – Northern lights are the largest light show on Earth and astonish those lucky enough to see them in the northern parts of our planet.
It is a phenomenon shared by other planets in our solar system, the largest of which, including Jupiter, is bathed in spectacular color at its poles.
Jupiter’s northern lights, characterized by their largest X-ray pulses, were first discovered 40 years ago. Astronomers have long sought to explain the mechanism behind these auroras, which NASA called “A powerful mystery“.
“They are unimaginably powerful (more than Earth) and more complex. Jupiter’s northern lights have these bright flares, they have teravat power, and they heal all of civilization,” said Jupiter Laboratory researcher William Dunn. Mullard Space Science from University College London.
The researcher is part of a team of international scientists who claim to have solved this 40-year mystery.
By combining observations and data NASA Juno spacecraft, Launched in 2016, and X-ray telescope of the European Space Agency, Researchers have found that pulsating X-ray auroras are caused by fluctuations in Jupiter’s magnetic field.
“The reason it’s been a mystery for 40 years is because we did not get this opportunity. We do not have this beautiful and magnificent Juno spacecraft and an X – ray telescope in orbit around the Earth,” Dunn said.
The study was published Friday in the journal Scientific Advances.
On Earth, northern lights are mainly caused by solar wind, which means that particles emitted during solar storms flow into space and pass through the Earth’s magnetic field, creating a colorful light scene.
On Thursday, other factors are at play, Ton said.
Jupiter rotates much faster than Earth and has the strongest magnetic field of all the planets in our solar system. Also, the third Jupiter’s largest moon, Io, Is covered by more than 400 active volcanoes that inject Jupiter’s magnetic field into a planet’s magnetic field.
“Video of what happens in the magnetic field based on northern lights,” Dunn explained.
Jupiter’s X-ray flare-up was first discovered in 1979, and scientists are confused because these phenomena are often associated with attractive space bodies such as black holes and neutron stars.
Thanks to the simultaneous observation of the Juno and MM-Newton X-ray telescope, Dunn and his colleagues were able to relate X-ray pulses at regular intervals, along with Jupiter’s impressive auroras.
“Jupiter explodes X-rays every 27 minutes. It gave us fingerprints. We know that Jupiter did this every 27 minutes, and then we can look at Juno data to see what processes occur at that frequency.”
What they found was that when Jupiter rotates, it carries its magnetic field, which is directly hit and compressed by particles of solar wind. These contractions heat the particles, trapping electrically charged atoms called ions in Jupiter’s magnetic field. The researchers said that this triggered a phenomenon called ion cyclotron electromagnetic waves (EMIC).
The ions guided by Jupiter’s magnetic field travel through the EMIC waves and collide with the planet’s poles, triggering an X-ray aurora.
Dunn said the next step for the study team is to see if this process is unique to Jupiter or occurs on other planets, even outside our solar system.