Snaps of Jupiter are in the spotlight

Dr SARAH BADMAN   Lancaster University
Dr SARAH BADMAN Lancaster University
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The electrical phenomenon of coloured light that surrounds Jupiter are being put under the microscope by a leading Lancashire academic.

Dr Sarah Badman, who is based at Lancaster University, is currently analysing snaps of Jupiter which were captured by Nasa’s Hubble space telescope.

Based in the Department of Physics, Dr Badman is a Royal Astronomical Society Research Fellow and she led the observations made by Hubble.

Both the Hubble and the new Hisaki space satellite telescope operated by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency have been watching Jupiter and between them managed to capture images of explosions of Jupiter’s extreme ultraviolet emission (EUV) aurora during periods when the solar wind was very quiet.

Along with Dr Tomoki Kimura, Research Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, Dr Badman has co-written research which has now been published in Geophysical Research Letters.

She said: “The brilliant auroral display seen on Earth during the St Patrick’s Day storm was caused by a cloud of energetic particles and strong magnetic field arriving from the Sun.

“These new observations show that bright bursts of aurora can occur at Jupiter without the same input from the Sun.”

These explosions are interpreted as the ‘internally-driven’ type aurora, which is associated with the rotation and magnetic field of Jupiter rather than the solar wind.

The astronomer said Jupiter has a much stronger magnetic field than Earth’s.