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This is an image of the aurora of Jupiter.
Click on image for full size
NASA

Jupiter's Aurora

Jupiter's aurora is a very powerful source of energy. The power dissipated in Jupiter's atmosphere as a result of the aurora is much more than that dissipated in Earth's atmosphere (about 1000 MegaWatts). Some scientists estimate it at a million MegaWatts, which is comparable to the power used by a large city of 10,000 MegaWatts. This energy can sometimes have a significant impact on the atmosphere.

Like the scene of a crime, the aurora of Jupiter is still being studied by scientists to gain complete understanding. This means that not all the evidence can yet be put together to tell a complete story.

Unlike the terrestrial aurora, the Jovian aurora is thought to come from two sources, Field-Aligned currents (FAC's) from the moon Io, and from currents carrying particles from somewhere deeper in Jupiter's magnetotail.

The streams of particles responsible for the aurora are thought to generate a type of radio emission called "DAM". On Earth, "Hiss" is thought to occur when particles are being forced into the auroral zone. Jupiter's magnetosphere is far different from the Earth's, so scientists studying the aurora of Jupiter look for DAM and other radio signals as proof of how the aurora is generated.


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Windows to the Universe, a project of the National Earth Science Teachers Association, is sponsored in part is sponsored in part through grants from federal agencies (NASA and NOAA), and partnerships with affiliated organizations, including the American Geophysical Union, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the Earth System Information Partnership, the American Meteorological Society, the National Center for Science Education, and TERC. The American Geophysical Union and the American Geosciences Institute are Windows to the Universe Founding Partners. NESTA welcomes new Institutional Affiliates in support of our ongoing programs, as well as collaborations on new projects. Contact NESTA for more information. NASA ESIP NCSE HHMI AGU AGI AMS NOAA