This view combines x-ray emissions from Jupiter’s auroras as seen by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory with a visible light image of the gas planet taken at about the same time by the Hubble Space Telescope. While Jupiter’s auroras are particularly brilliant in ultraviolet light, they also shine in other types or frequencies of light, like x-rays.
DECEMBER 14, 2000: In this Hubble telescope picture, a curtain of glowing gas is wrapped around Jupiter’s north pole like a lasso. This curtain of light, called an aurora, is produced when high-energy electrons race along the planet’s magnetic field and into the upper atmosphere where they excite atmospheric gases, causing them to glow. The aurora resembles the same phenomenon that crowns Earth’s polar regions. But this Hubble image, taken in ultraviolet light, also shows the glowing “footprints” of three of Jupiter’s largest moons: Io, Ganymede, and Europa.
Artist’s rendering of Jupiter’s auroras seen from within the Jovian cloudscape.
Ultraviolet images of Jupiter, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, are assembled here into a movie sequence showing the planet’s brilliant, glowing auroras.