If the habitability of planets in our solar system is ruled out, aurorae are a feature that can be found on many planets; All they need is a blanket of magnetosphere around them. While auroras are widely studied on Earth, this luminous phenomenon has been observed on other planets such as Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune.
Recently, NASA shared a view captured by the Hubble Telescope, in which aurorae were seen shining brightly over Jupiter’s north pole.
Aurora on Jupiter
Scientists studying auroras on Earth have found that they occur when solar particles are pushed by strong solar winds that interact with Earth’s magnetosphere. Our planet has a cover of magnetosphere, similar to the ozone layer, which is formed by magnetic fields emanating from Earth’s core and provides protection from harmful solar radiation. However, when the solar winds are strong enough, they push solar particles through the magnetosphere and when they interact with Earth’s atmosphere, auroras are formed.
Interestingly, solar particles give off green and red light when they interact with oxygen and blue and violet light when they interact with nitrogen. However, scientists have found after Hubble observations that auroras on Jupiter are larger and more energetic than those on Earth. But the most interesting fact about Jupiter’s aurorae is that, unlike Earth, they are always there. Astronomers say this is because the planet captures charged particles from its surroundings, including those dispersed by its moon, Io.
According to NASA, Hubble has spotted Jupiter months ago and the video above was made using the Hubble Telescope’s Imaging Spectrograph.
While not much was known about this event, the Juno spacecraft, which entered the gas giant’s orbit in 2016, has helped scientists double down on its unique characteristics. Ever since it began operations five years ago, Juno has served as NASA’s eyes and ears and returned loads of data helping advance the study of planets in the outer Solar System.