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More Images of Jupiter
Chandra X-ray Image of Jupiter
Chandra's image of Jupiter shows bright polar caps associated with auroral activity on Jupiter. X-ray spectra revealed that this activity is caused by highly charged ions of oxygen and other elements crashing into the atmosphere above Jupiter's poles. The charged particles were primarily ions of oxygen and other elements that were stripped of most of their electrons, which implies that the ions were accelerated to high energies in a multimillion-volt environment above the planet's poles. Such high voltages indicate that the cause of many of Jupiter's auroras is different from auroras produced on Earth or Saturn.

Scale: About 1.3 arcmin per side
(Credit: NASA/CXC/MSFC/R.Elsner et al.)

Schematic of Jupiter's Auroral Activity Production
This schematic illustrates how Jupiter's unusually frequent and spectacular auroral activity is produced. Jupiter's strong, rapidly rotating magnetic field (light blue lines) generates strong electric fields in the space around the planet. Particles (white dots) from Jupiter's volcanically active moon, Io, drift outward to create a huge reservoir of electrons and ions. These charged particles, trapped in Jupiter's magnetic field, are continually being accelerated (gold particles) down into the atmosphere above the polar regions, so auroras are almost always active on Jupiter.
(Illustration: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss)

Hubble Ultraviolet Image of Jupiter
Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet observations made during the Chandra monitoring period of Jupiter showed relatively weak ultraviolet flaring. The combined Chandra and Hubble data indicate that the auroral activity was caused by the acceleration of charged ions of oxygen and other elements trapped in the polar magnetic field high above Jupiter's atmosphere. Hubble observed Jupiter for one-and-a-half hours on February 26, 2003.
(Credit: NASA/STScI)

Chandra X-ray Image with Scale Bar
Scalebar = .4 arcmin
(Credit: NASA/CXC/MSFC/R.Elsner et al.)

Return to Jupiter (02 Mar 05)