The cause of Jupiter’s X-ray aurora revealed – a mystery has puzzled scientists for 40 years

NASA’s Juno Mission observed pulsating electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves in the magnetosphere at dawn on Jupiter. It regularly releases energetic heavy ions into the atmosphere, producing amazing X-ray pulsations captured by ESAXMM-Newton. Credits: ESA / NASA / Yao / Dunn

An international research team led by YAO Zhonghua of the Institute of Geology and Geophysics (IGGCAS) at the Chinese Academy of Sciences explained the cause of Jupiter’s X-ray aurora, a mystery that has puzzled scientists for 40 years.

Survey results published in Science Advances July 9, 2021.

This is the first time a planetary researcher has described the entire causal chain of Jupiter’s X-ray aurora flares. The mechanism for producing X-ray aurora flares on Jupiter has the potential to be applied to X-ray astronomy.

The X-ray aurora spectrum shows that these aurora are generated by heavy ions with energies in the mega-electronvolt range. However, it was not previously known how they were formed and why these ions enter Jupiter’s atmosphere.

To understand the energy processes associated with Jupiter’s polar emissions, researchers have been working on a series of paradigm shifts from Earth over the past four years, in parallel with field measurements by ESA’s flagship X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton, and NASA. We have organized an observation campaign. Juneau spacecraft. These efforts included the most extensive X-ray campaign and the most extensive Hubble Space Telescope campaign ever conducted against Jupiter.

Using these tools, researchers were able to scrutinize the physics behind the phenomenon and uncover the process that guides the planet to produce an X-ray aurora.

“These are very similar to the process of producing ion aurora on Earth, and despite their orders of magnitude different temporal, spatial, and energetic scales, ion aurora share a common mechanism throughout the planetary system. It suggests sharing, “says YAO Zhonghua, lead author of the study. ..

“It is this beautiful series of events that can be seen in the Juno data. We knew that the aurora lions are accumulating in the magnetosphere derived from the volcanic activity of Jupiter’s moon Io. Compression occurs, an electromagnetic ion cyclotron wave is triggered, an ion is generated, and then a pulse of ions moving along the force line is generated. After a few minutes, the XMM sees a burst of X-rays. ” Said William Dunn of University College London, who co-led the study.

It is worth noting that Jupiter’s X-ray aurora flares often correlate with the most common aurora form, the UV aurora flare. Indeed, the latter study could benefit from the abundant data of the Hubble Space Telescope obtained through this study. “The discovery of Jupiter’s X-ray process can affect our understanding of the amazing UV aurora flare,” said Dennis Grodent of the University of Liege, co-author of the study.

For more information on this discovery:

Reference: “Clarifying the Source of Jupiter’s X-ray Aurora Flare”, Zhonghua Yao, William R. Dunn, Emma E. Woodfield, George Clark, Barry H. Mauk, Robert W. Ebert, Denis Grodent, Bertrand Bonfond , Dongxiao Pan, I. Jonathan Rae, Binbin Ni, Ruilong Guo, Graziella Branduardi-Raymont, Affelia D. Wibisono, Pedro Rodriguez, Stavros Kotsiaros, Jan-Uwe Ness, Frederic Allegrini, William S. Kurth, G. RandallGladstone, Ralph Kraft, Ali H. Sulaiman, Harry Manners, Ravindra T. Desai, Scott J. Bolton, July 9, 2021 Science Advances..
DOI: 10.1126 / sciadv.abf0851 The cause of Jupiter’s X-ray aurora revealed – a mystery has puzzled scientists for 40 years

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