Gigantic aurora lights up Jupiter’s North Pole, gets caught on camera

Auroras created by high-energy particles are seen on a pole of the planet Jupiter in a NASA composite of two separate images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. © NASA
They say the bigger, the better and this is especially true when it comes to northern lights. NASA’s Hubble Telescope managed to capture gigantic aurora at Jupiter’s north pole some days before Juno spacecraft arrives at the solar system’s biggest planet.

The video on NASA’s Facebook page was created by joining many far-ultraviolet images of Jupiter taken at different time by Hubble.

“These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen. It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a firework party for the imminent arrival of Juno,” Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester said in a statement.

Jupiter has already attracted scientists’ attention with its nature wonders such as its colorful storms, the most famous being the Great Red Spot, but turns out it has more mysteries and beauty in store.

Created when high-energy particles emerge in the atmosphere, this aurora reminds of Earth’s lightning ball or a thunder-cloud slowly rotating over Jupiter, mesmerizing and absolutely stunning.

These auroras are the most active and brightest ever detected by the Hubble Telescope, having the intensity thousand times higher than those observed on Earth.

This is explained by the fact that northern lights on Jupiter are created not only with the help of the Sun that sends solar wind to the planet, but also with Jupiter’s volcanic moon, Io, that also delivers charged particles to the atmosphere.

Apart from that, Jupiter’s magnetosphere is nearly 20,000 times stronger than the Earth’s which also adds up to the extreme intensity of the local northern lights.

Meanwhile Juno is getting closer to the biggest planet, planning to arrive on July 4. Juno is going to measure the properties of the solar wind and will combine its observations with those made by Hubble.

The findings scientist hope to obtain are to help understand how the sun and other sources of charged particles influence auroras.

Juno launched in 2011 also aims to find out if there is a solid core lying beneath the thick atmosphere and is the first one to travel through Jupiter’s dangerous radiation belts.