Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UCL/W.Dunn et al, Optical: South Pole:Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt /Seán Doran North Pole Credit:NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS
Jupiter's intense northern and southern lights, or auroras, behave independently of each other according to a new study using NASA's Chandra X-ray and ESA's XMM-Newton observatories.
Using XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray observations from March 2007 and May and June 2016, a team of researchers produced maps of Jupiter's X-ray emissions (shown in inset) and identified an X-ray hot spot at each pole. Each hot spot can cover an area equal to about half the surface of the Earth.
The team found that the hot spots had very different characteristics. The X-ray emission at Jupiter's south pole consistently pulsed every 11 minutes, but the X-rays seen from the north pole were erratic, increasing and decreasing in brightness — seemingly independent of the emission from the south pole.
This makes Jupiter particularly puzzling. X-ray auroras have never been detected from our Solar System's other gas giants, including Saturn. Jupiter is also unlike Earth, where the auroras on our planet's north and south poles generally mirror each other because the magnetic fields are similar.
Source / Image Courtesy