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Aurora on Jupiter's north pole; jovian aurora; aurora crowns Jupiter's north pole; gas giant; jovian planet; oblate spheroid - Space Art Illustration

Aurora on Jupiter

This is how auroras on Jupiter's north pole might look from a distance of about a quarter million miles. On the Sunlit side can be seen churning clouds of ammonia ice, ammonium hydrosulfide, and water ice. The "dark" side reveals a dazzling aurora and brilliant flashes of lightning hundreds of times brighter than lightning on Earth.

Unlike Earth's north and south pole auroras which are powered by charged particles from the Sun, auroras on Jupiter are driven by particles emitted by Jupiter's volcanic moon Io. Io in fact leaves a distinct auroral "footprint" on Jupiter's poles, seen here as a whitish dot with a trailing, comet-like tail at the seven 0'clock position. Jupiter's moons Europa and Ganymede also have corresponding, albeit fainter footprints on the far side of the larger auroral oval.


Copyright Walter B. Myers. All rights reserved.

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