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Jupiter's Independently Pulsating X-ray Auroras

Bringing some of the mysteries of the universe a little closer to home.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:49 pm

Using XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray observations from March 2007 and May and June 2016, a team of researchers produced maps of Jupiter's X-ray emissions (shown in inset) and identified an X-ray hot spot at each pole. Each hot spot can cover an area equal to about half the surface of the Earth.

The team found that the hot spots had very different characteristics. The X-ray emission at Jupiter's south pole consistently pulsed every 11 minutes, but the X-rays seen from the north pole were erratic, increasing and decreasing in brightness — seemingly independent of the emission from the south pole.

This makes Jupiter particularly puzzling. X-ray auroras have never been detected from our Solar System's other gas giants, including Saturn. Jupiter is also unlike Earth, where the auroras on our planet's north and south poles generally mirror each other because the magnetic fields are similar.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:51 pm

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Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UCL/W.Dunn et al, Optical: South Pole:Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt /Seán Doran North Pole Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS

Jupiter's intense northern and southern lights, or auroras, behave independently of each other according to a new study using NASA's Chandra X-ray and ESA's XMM-Newton observatories.

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Owlscrying
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Unread post Tue Nov 07, 2017 2:52 pm



This behaviour is distinct from Earth's north and south auroras which broadly mirror each other in activity. Other similarly large planets, such as Saturn, do not produce any detectable X-ray aurora, which makes the findings at Jupiter particularly puzzling.

 
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