Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. 24/7 Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Solar Wind Induces Jupiter's X-ray Aurora
by Staff Writers
Tokyo, Japan (SPX) Mar 25, 2016

Artistic rendering of the Jupiter's aurora and magnetosphere.

Jupiter boasts some of the most powerful auroras in the solar system. Compared to the Earth's aurora, Jupiter's is a few hundred times more powerful and brighter across the entire spectrum. What causes Jupiter's powerful aurora? Several hypotheses have been proposed, but it has remained a mystery due to a lack of observational evidence.

Jupiter's X-ray aurora, which is observed in the X-ray spectrum region, is thought to sparkle when oxygen and sulfur ion particles moving at nearly the velocity of light strike Jupiter's atmosphere. How can these ions be accelerated to such high speed? There are two leading hypotheses. The first one assumes that the solar wind speeds up the ions, similar to the case of the Earth's aurora. The other proposes that the ions are being accelerated by the rapid spin of Jupiter, Jupiter's own magnetic field, and plasma provided by Jupiter's satellite Io.

Monitor observations of Jupiter's X-ray aurora are essential to compare several parameters of the X-ray aurora, such as brightness at each location, with the changes in the solar wind. For example, a correlation between the solar wind and the X-ray aurora supports the first hypothesis (the ions are accelerated by the solar wind) observationally.

Using the Spectroscopic Planet Observatory for Recognition of Interaction of Atmosphere "HISAKI" (SPRINT-A), the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton), scientists monitored Jupiter's X-ray aurora for two weeks in April 2014.

"We estimated the variation of the solar wind at Jupiter by HISAKI's data. The data of the solar wind at the Earth was available. However, when this observation was conducted, Jupiter was in particular far from the Earth. The estimated pressure and velocity of the solar wind at Jupiter is much less accurate if we extrapolated these values observed at the Earth," Kimura, the research team lead, explains. The results show the strong correlation between the velocity of the solar wind and the strength of the X-ray aurora.

Although previous studies indicated the correlation between the pressure of the solar wind and the strength of the X-ray aurora, this is the first time to show the velocity of the solar wind affects the strength of the X-ray aurora. Since Jupiter's aurora at other spectral ranges is thought to get kicked off by the planet-moon interaction, not by solar activity, this study suggests the X-ray aurora sparks by different mechanism from Jupiter's aurora emitting light in other wavelength ranges.

Kimura continues, "We observed the X-ray aurora for 10 hours once daily, 6 times in total. Thanks to the high resolving power of the Chandra X-ray Observatory, we could obtain the detailed spatial structure and its time variations of the X-ray aurora. The spectral data taken by the XMM-Newton told us the volcanic gases from the satellite Io and oxygen atoms can exist in the solar wind emit X-ray."

The long-time observation by Chandra also elucidated the fine spatial structure of the X-ray aurora and precise measurement of time variations. Kimura says, "Using the observational data and a numerical model of Jupiter's magnetic field, we studied the spatial distribution of the magnetic flux line of the X-ray aurora at Jupiter's magnetosphere.

"Our estimation shows the lines of magnetic force piercing the X-ray aurora connect with the boundary surface between Jupiter's magnetosphere and the solar wind. Together with this and the correlation between the velocity of the solar wind and the strength of the X-ray aurora, we believe the solar wind causes the X-ray aurora."

Another study out today, led by William Dunn from UCL and co-authored by the JAXA research team also analyzed the X-ray data taken in 2011. Despite the complete difference in condition of the solar wind observed in 2014, the team found the similar trends, i.e., the correlation between the solar wind and the strength of the X-ray aurora, and the lines of magnetic force connected with the outer region of Jupiter's magnetosphere. These are consistent with the results based on the observations in 2014.

Observation by HISAKI and the Hubble Space Telescope in January 2014 focused on precipitations of Jupiter's aurora in UV. This research concluded Jupiter's high spin resulted in the precipitations of the UV aurora. The results of the X-ray and UV aurora suggest that the both mechanisms, Jupiter's rapid spin and the solar wind, cause Jupiter's powerful aurora phenomenon.

Yamazaki, the HISAKI project manager says, "Auroras in atmospheres of other planets can be formed by the mechanisms similar to Jupiter. For example, there is a high possibility of similar phenomena in the atmosphere of Saturn, because plasma particles originated from water of Saturn's satellite Enceladus are captured by Saturn's magnetic field and turn rapidly around Saturn. Of course, auroras can form in the atmosphere of an exoplanet. Some day, our research may apply to study aurora phenomena of exoplanets."

Kimura tells about his future research as follows: "We plan further observations of Jupiter's auroras by the X-ray astronomical satellite "HITOMI" (ASTRO-H) and JUNO probe which will perform a polar orbit insertion. By using HISAKI's data complementary, we would like to understand the acceleration mechanism of particles inducing Jupiter's aurora phenomena. "

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly

paypal only


Related Links
Extreme ultraviolet spectroscope for Exospheric Dynamics
Solar Science News at SpaceDaily

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Previous Report
Solar storms trigger Jupiter's 'Northern Lights'
London, UK (SPX) Mar 24, 2016
Solar storms trigger Jupiter's intense 'Northern Lights' by generating a new X-ray aurora that is eight times brighter than normal and hundreds of times more energetic than Earth's aurora borealis, finds new UCL-led research using NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory. It is the first time that Jupiter's X-ray aurora has been studied when a giant storm from the Sun has arrived at the planet. Th ... read more

Earth's moon wandered off axis billions of years ago

Permanent Lunar Colony Possible in 10 Years

China to use data relay satellite to explore dark side of moon

NASA May Return to Moon, But Only After Cutting Off ISS

New Gravity Map Gives Best View Yet Inside Mars

ExoMars performing flawlessly

Opportunity Rover Goes Back Downhill

ExoMars probe imaged en route to Mars

British bacon sandwich en route to ISS tastes out of this world

NASA Selects American Small Business, Research Institution Projects for Continued Development

China regulator frowns on Anbang's hotel bids: report

Broomstick flying or red-light ping-pong? Gadgets at German fair

China's 1st space lab Tiangong-1 ends data service

China's aim to explore Mars

China to establish first commercial rocket launch company

China's ambition after space station

Unmanned Cygnus cargo ship launches to ISS on resupply run: NASA

Cygnus Set to Deliver Its Largest Load of Station Science, Cargo

Three new members join crew of International Space Station

Grandpa astronaut to break Scott Kelly's space record

MHI signs H-IIA launch deal for UAE Mars mission

Launch of Dragon Spacecraft to ISS Postponed Until April

ILS and INMARSAT Agree To Future Proton Launch

Soyuz 2-1B Carrier Rocket Launched From Baikonur

Most eccentric planet ever known flashes astronomers with reflected light

VLA shows earliest stages of planet formation

VLA observes earliest stages of planet formation

NASA's K2 mission: Kepler second chance to shine

3D-printed component flies in Trident missile tests

Tunable windows for privacy, camouflage

Saab showcases Sea Giraffe 1X air and surface naval radar

Wrangler Supercomputer speeds through big data

Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement