Strange X-ray auroras on Jupiter are no longer a mystery


Auroras occur on Thursday X-rays. For four decades, astronomers have wondered how they came to be. Until they can fully and for the first time observe its mechanism, Which can occur in many parts of the universe.

Every few minutes Thursday Produces a Spectacular X-ray eruption This is because charged particles interact with the planet’s atmosphere.

A similar phenomenon creates the Northern Lights on Earth, But Jupiter is very powerful, Unleashes hundreds of gigawatts of energy, which is enough to sum up all of human civilization in a nutshell.

A study published today Scientific advances Observations by a team of affiliated international astronomers NASA Juno satellite data, Orbits the planet with simultaneous X-ray measurements from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton laboratory in Earth’s orbit.

Astronomers have seen Jupiter produce X-ray auroras for forty years, but they do not know how they are produced, they only occur when ions collide with the atmosphere.

Led team University College London (UCL) And the Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered that X-ray flares are triggered by occasional vibrations of Jupiter’s magnetic field lines.

These vibrations create plasma waves (ionized gas) that “browse” heavy ion particles. With magnetic field lines They are inactivated in the planet’s atmosphere and emit energy in the form of X-rays.

One of the co-authors of the study, William Dunn, Stressed that they now know it from UCL Those ions are carried by plasma waves, Although a similar process occurs in the aurora of the earth, an explanation that has not been proposed before.

Therefore, it “A global phenomenon exists in different contexts of spaceTons guessed.

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Of Auroras X-rays Occurs at the north and south poles of Jupiter Often with a clockwork routine: X-rays explode every twenty-seven minutes during observation used to retrieve data.

Ionic charged particles hitting the atmosphere Formed from volcanic gas One of Jupiter’s moons is erupting into space from Iowa’s giant volcanoes.

This gas is ionized, i.e. its atoms are removed by electrons, causing a kind of plasma donut to orbit the planet due to collisions in the immediate environment of Jupiter.

The lead author of the study, Zhonghua Yao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, noted that now that they have identified this “basic process” of plasma waves in the “browsing” of charged particles, there is a better chance of studying this in the future.

The researcher estimated that similar processes may occur in Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and, most likely, the Exoplanets.

Magnetic field

On Jupiter, the magnetic field is filled with sulfur and oxygen ions emitted by Iowa volcanoes. Moon Enceladus on Saturn Water pushes into space, filling the planet’s magnetic field with ions from the water group.

The process observed on Jupiter bears a strong resemblance to the ionic auroras occurring on Earth. The ion in charge is a proton, It comes from a hydrogen atom, but this process is not powerful enough to generate X-rays.

To conduct this research, The team examined Jupiter’s observations And its surroundings were captured in twenty-six days by the Juno and XMM-Newton satellites.

The researchers saw “A clear connection“Between the plasma waves detected by Juno and the X-ray oral flares at Jupiter’s North Pole recorded by XM-Newton.

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The next step was to confirm that the waves would be driven using a computer model Heavy particles In the atmosphere of Jupiter.

It is not yet clear why the lines Magnetic field They vibrate from time to time, but may be the result of contact with solar air or high-velocity plasma flow into Jupiter’s magnetic field.

Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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