NASA discovers the highest light energy ever on a planet in our solar system other than Earth and solves a 30-year mystery

Posted:

Feb 12 2022 01:52 GMT

On Jupiter, unlike Earth, the aurora borealis are constant and permanent: this is because the particles are not solar, but come from Jovian’s moon Io.

In a new study, NASA researchers were able to do so reveal The highest energy light ever seen on a planet in our solar system other than Earth.

These emissions, from Jupiter’s permanent auroras detected by NASA’s Neustar X-ray Space Telescope, could shed light on the strongest auroras in the solar system, and solve a long-standing mystery about why the Ulysses spacecraft did not detect any Jovian X. – Trays in her years of operation between 1990 and 2009.

This isn’t the first time X-rays have been observed on Jupiter: NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton Observatory have both detected low-energy X-rays coming from the giant planet’s aurora borealis. This time, the scientists thought there must also be high-energy X-rays beyond what those devices could detect. So they used NuSTAR to search for it.

“It’s very difficult for planets to generate X-rays in the range that Nustar detects,” said astrophysicist Kaia Morey of Columbia University. “But Jupiter has a huge magnetic field and spins very fast. These two features mean that the planet’s magnetosphere acts as a giant particle accelerator, which is what makes these high-energy emissions possible.”

On Jupiter, unlike Earth, the aurora borealis are constant and permanent: this is because the particles are not solar, but come from Jovian Io, the most volcanic satellite in the solar system. It constantly spews out sulfur dioxide, which is instantly stripped away by a complex gravitational interaction with the planet, ionizing and forming a torrent of plasma around the giant gas. The particles in this torrent are sent along magnetic field lines towards the poles, and so on.

See also  A game with "mostly positive" reviews is available for free on Steam

Scientists suspected that Io’s electrons could create X-rays more powerful than the aurora borealis on the planet. Through NuSTAR observations, researchers have confirmed for the first time that Io electrons do indeed create high-energy X-rays.

By detecting these high-energy X-rays, researchers in this study may also have solved a lingering mystery: It’s possible that Ulysses didn’t detect any X-rays because, due to the mechanism that produces this light, the X-rays get weaker. at higher energies. Thus, within the scope of Ulysses’ discovery, they suspected that the X-rays of Jupiter were too faint to be seen.

The results of the investigation were published This Thursday in Nature Astronomy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.