Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Jupiter's X-Ray Auroras Pulse Out of Sync

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles
 According to a new UCL-led study using ESA's XMM-Newton and NASA's Chandra X-ray observatories, x-rays have been spotted in Jupiter's aurora. Furthermore, it has been found that the gas giant's intense northern and southern lights pulse independently of each other.
 On Jupiter, X-ray emissions at the planet's south pole consistently pulse every 11 minutes while those at the north pole are highly erratic. This behaviour is distinct from Earth's north and south aurora which commonly mirror each other in activity. On other large planets in our solar system, such as Saturn, there are no detectable at all X-ray aurora, which makes the findings at Jupiter quite irregular.
 "If we can start to connect the X-ray signatures with the physical processes that produce them, then we can use those signatures to understand other bodies across the Universe such as brown dwarfs, exoplanets or maybe even neutron stars," explained lead author, William Dunn of UCL Mullaand the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. "It is a very powerful and important step towards understanding X-rays throughout the Universe and one that we only have while Juno is conducting measurements simultaneously with Chandra and XMM-Newton."
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