Science really does work the same everywhere, and we can see familiar sights in some of the least familiar places. In a new paper in JGR: Space Physics, led by Vincent Hue, researchers describe a new aurora discovered glowing in Jupiter’s high latitudes. Hue explains: We think these newly discovered faint ultraviolet features originate millions of miles away from Jupiter, near the Jovian magnetosphere’s boundary with the solar wind. The solar wind is a supersonic stream of charged particles emitted by the Sun. When they reach Jupiter, they interact with its magnetosphere in a way that is still not well understood.
Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field is driven by its speedy ten-hour rotation. This field prevents solar particles from directly triggering aurorae, as happens here, but particles may somehow be channeled through the field to these observed ring aurorae. It’s still not well understood; this is something new and beautiful discovered by the Juno mission, and more data and modeling are still needed.
SwRI press release
“Detection and Characterization of Circular Expanding UV‐Emissions Observed in Jupiter’s Polar Auroral Regions,” V. Hue et al., 2021 March 9, JGR Space Physics