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Astronomers thought the auroras present on other planets have a similar behavior to the ones which occur at the poles of our Earth, but a recent discovery revealed this doesn’t apply to all. On our planet, the two phenomena mirror each other, and have the same activity. However, it seems the auroras on Jupiter are different, and each of them functions independently from the other.
Jupiter’s auroras are asymmetrical
Researchers from NASA and ESA studied the observations made with the help of XMM-Newton and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, and analyzed the behavior of the auroras present at Jupiter’s poles. They saw how the one from the south pole pulsated once every 11 minutes. However, the one in the north had a completely independent behavior from its sibling.
This surprised the researchers, as the thought the two phenomena were linked with the help of the planet’s magnetic field. Therefore, they couldn’t establish an explanation to why the auroras exhibited such a behavior.
The show we can see on Earth is the result of solar winds which influence the magnetic field of our planet. This field is equally distributed across the two hemispheres, so the auroras are symmetrical. However, there are other factors which influence Jupiter.
The cause of the strange phenomena remains unknown
One of its moons, Io, has an intense volcanic activity. During this activity, it releases a high quantity of charged particles, which reach the magnetosphere of Jupiter. It seems that these particles influence the X-ray manifestation of the auroras, but the real cause of the event remains unknown at the moment.
Now, researchers are planning to compare the findings of the Juno spacecraft with the X-ray data collected by the two observatories, XMM-Newton and Chandra. This way, they hope they can identify the processes which cause these X-ray manifestations, and understand how they work.