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Strange X-ray aurora on Jupiter is no longer a mystery

Strange X-ray aurora on Jupiter is no longer a mystery


Jupiter has auroras because of X ray. For four decades, astronomers have wondered how they are born, So that they can fully observe his mechanism for the first time, which can occur in many other parts of the universe.

every few minutes Jupiter produces Amazing X-ray explosion Because charged particles interact with the planet’s atmosphere.

A similar phenomenon that occurs on Earth creates the aurora borealis, But Jupiter is much stronger أقوى, unleashes hundreds of gigawatts of energy, enough to power all of human civilization for a brief period.

Study published today science progress Accounts to monitor an international group of astronomers who met NASA Juno Satellite Data, orbiting the planet, with simultaneous X-ray measurements from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Observatory, in Earth orbit.

Astronomers have watched Jupiter produce X-ray auroras for forty years, but they did not know how they are produced, except that they occur when ions collide with the atmosphere.

The team led by Dr University College London (UCL) The Chinese Academy of Sciences discovered that the X-ray flares are caused by periodic vibrations of Jupiter’s magnetic field lines.

These vibrations create plasma waves (ionized gas) that send heavy ionic particles “surfing” Along the magnetic field lines Until they collide with the planet’s atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of X-rays.

One of the study’s co-authors, William Dunn, from UCL confirmed that they know it now These ions are transported by waves of plasma, an explanation that has not been proposed before, although a similar process occurs in the aurora borealis itself.

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Therefore, it could beA global phenomenon, present in many different space environmentsDunn expectation.

twilight X ray They occur at the north and south poles of Jupiter, in Often with the regularity of the clock: During the observations used to obtain the data, the planet produced bursts of X-rays every twenty-seven minutes.

Charged ionic particles hit the atmosphere Created from volcanic gas الغاز Flowing into space from the giant volcanoes of Io, one of Jupiter’s moons.

This gas is ionized, that is, its atoms are stripped of electrons, due to collisions in the immediate environment of Jupiter, forming a kind of plasma donut that surrounds the planet.

The study’s lead author, Zhonghua Yao of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, notes that now that they have identified this “fundamental process” of charged particles “surfing” plasma waves, there is a much better chance of studying it in the future.

The researcher estimated that similar processes could also occur on Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and possibly on the outer planets.

magnetic field

While Jupiter’s magnetic field is filled with sulfur and oxygen ions expelled by Io’s volcanoes, On Saturn’s Moon Enceladus It shoots water into space, filling the planet’s magnetic field with ions from the water group.

The process observed on Jupiter bears great resemblance to the ionic auroras that occur on Earth, where the responsible ion is a proton, which comes from a hydrogen atom, but the process is not energetic enough to produce X-rays.

To perform this research, The team analyzed Jupiter’s observations The Juno and XMM-Newton satellites and their surroundings lasted more than twenty-six days.

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The researchers sawclear linkBetween the plasma waves detected by Juno and the auroral X-ray flares at Jupiter’s north pole recorded by XMM-Newton.

The next step was to use a computer model to make sure the waves would drive heavy particles in the atmosphere of Jupiter.

What is not yet clear is why the lines appear magnetic field They vibrate periodically, but can be the result of interactions with the solar wind or high-speed plasma flows within Jupiter’s magnetosphere.