Photo: Volcanic Moon Creates Glowing Aurora Spots on Jupiter



An ultraviolet image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope (top) shows glowing auroral structures around Jupiter's north pole. A bright spot near the center of the image is known as the Io footprint, because researchers think it is created by interactions between Jupiter and the volcanic moon Io.

Now astronomers have described a new model for these interactions in which the moon disrupts the flow of particles in a donut-shaped cloud (yellow) around Jupiter, as seen in an artist's conception (bottom). This sends plasma waves (blue) curving around the moon from one pole of Jupiter to the other that generate electron beams (red) along the planet's magnetic field lines.

Images courtesy LPAP/Université de Liège


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