Mysterious X-ray flares on Jupiter come from magnetic field vibrations

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By Leah Crane

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Overlaid images of Jupiter’s rod from NASA’s Juno orbiter and X-ray emissions (purple) taken by the Chandra abstraction telescope

NASA Chandra/Juno Wolk/Dunn

Jupiter regularly blasts retired almighty flares of X-rays arsenic portion of its auroras, but however it does truthful has been a enigma since these bursts were discovered. Now, researchers person yet figured retired however they are generated.

“What we’ve recovered wasn’t immoderate of the ideas that radical had projected successful the past 4 decades since these X-rays were discovered,” says William Dunn astatine University College London. He and his colleagues utilized information from the European Space Agency’s XMM-Newton abstraction scope connected Jupiter’s X-rays and from NASA’s Juno orbiter connected the planet’s magnetic fields to explicate the phenomenon.

They recovered that the X-rays occurred similar clockwork erstwhile each 27 minutes, and they observed the nonstop aforesaid timing successful vibrations on the planet’s magnetic field.

“You tin representation the magnetic tract of a satellite benignant of similar strings connected a philharmonic instrument, and the tract tin vibrate similar the strings connected an electrical guitar,” says Dunn. Those vibrations are made up of waves successful the magnetic field. Charged particles get caught up successful those waves, and past smash into Jupiter’s atmosphere, causing the X-ray pulses that we see.

“The satellite conscionable smashes this powerfulness chord out, and that vibration of the magnetic tract carries the particles to the planet’s poles,” helium says.

Understanding this improvement is important due to the fact that it hints that the aforesaid benignant of magnetic tract vibrations whitethorn beryllium important to immoderate of the highest-energy processes successful the universe.

“X-rays are typically utilized to survey truly exotic, super-energetic things similar achromatic holes, neutron stars, the state that flows betwixt galaxies, things that are connected the borderline of the quality imagination,” says Dunn. “The lone mode we tin truly recognize however those places make these X-rays is to spell to much adjacent places that bash it, similar Jupiter.”

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abf0851

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