Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Jupiter`s Electric Aurora


The planet Jupiter has spectacular rings of auroras around each pole but until now scientists have not been able to explain how they form. All auroras are caused by energetic charged particles crashing into the top of the atmosphere and making it glow. In the Earth’s auroras, these particles come from the Sun in a flow of charged particles known as the solar wind. But this can’t account for Jupiter’s auroras because the solar wind does not reach to the region where the brightest are found. Space physicists from the University of Leicester have now proposed a new theory of how Jupiter’s auroras are formed.

An enormous disk of plasma gas rotates around Jupiter, flowing outwards from the moon Io. They believe that a large-scale electric current system (stream of charged particles) flows between the planet’s upper atmosphere and this disk of gas. They have also calculated that in order for such large currents to flow between the atmosphere and the disk, electrons must be strongly accelerated between these regions, causing the bright ring of auroras around each pole when they hit the top of the atmosphere and make it glow.

Professor Stan Cowley, of the University of Leicester said: "The force associated with this electric current causes the plasma gas to spin at the same rate as the planet as it flows outwards. Our calculations suggest that the total current in this giant circuit is 100 million amps. The power transferred from the atmosphere to the plasma disk is about a thousand million megawatts or about 20,000 times the peak electricity demand in the UK!"

The brightness of the aurora depends upon the intensity of the electron beams that hit the top of the atmosphere. Scientists had previously developed a number of theories about how the auroras are formed, but they underestimated this brightness by factors of between a hundred and a thousand compared to the measurements taken!

Julia Maddock | alphagalileo
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA
27.10.2016 | University of Oklahoma

nachricht First results of NSTX-U research operations
26.10.2016 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>