Hubble Captures Most Detailed Image Yet of Jupiter's Glowing Auroras

Thursday, 30 June 2016 - 1:16PM
Space
Astronomy
Space Imagery
Thursday, 30 June 2016 - 1:16PM
Hubble Captures Most Detailed Image Yet of Jupiter's Glowing Auroras
Astronauts have captured some of the best images of Earth's auroras from the ISS, but now, NASA has captured the extraterrestrial version of the beautiful phenomenon. Ahead of the arrival of the Juno spacecraft this weekend, NASA's Hubble Telescope took the most detailed photo yet of Jupiter's "Northern Lights."

Jupiter's Aurora

Auroras are caused when charged particles from the solar wind come into contact with the upper atmosphere, exciting and ionizing the magnetosphere and causing protons to emit colorful light as they gain electrons from the atmosphere. Hubble used its ultraviolet capabilities to capture the display on Jupiter, leading to a photograph that is so surreal, it looks like it could be Photoshopped.

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"These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen", principal investigator Jonathan Nichols said in a statement. "It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a firework party for the imminent arrival of Juno."
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Hubble has been observing these auroras on Jupiter for several months, in order to observe changes in the phenomenon. The auroras are huge, at times reaching sizes bigger than Earth itself, and are hundreds of times more energetic than those on Earth, which can usually be seen in areas near the poles. 

These are by far the best images we have of the extraterrestrial auroras so far, although that might all change when Juno arrives on July 4. The space probe will orbit Jupiter 37 times over the course of 20 months, gathering data on its gravity and magnetic fields, as well as capturing the most high-definition photos of the gas giant in history.
Science
NASA
Space
Astronomy
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