Revealing the source of Jupiter’s x-ray auroral flares

Jupiter’s rapidly rotating, strong magnetic field provides a natural laboratory that is key to understanding the dynamics of high-energy plasmas. Spectacular auroral x-ray flares are diagnostic of the most energetic processes governing magnetospheres but seemingly unique to Jupiter. Since their discovery 40 years ago, the processes that produce Jupiter’s x-ray flares have remained unknown. Here, we report simultaneous in situ satellite and space-based telescope observations that reveal the processes that produce Jupiter’s x-ray flares, showing surprising similarities to terrestrial ion aurora. Planetary-scale electromagnetic waves are observed to modulate electromagnetic ion cyclotron waves, periodically causing heavy ions to precipitate and produce Jupiter’s x-ray pulses. Our findings show that ion aurorae share common mechanisms across planetary systems, despite temporal, spatial, and energetic scales varying by orders of magnitude.


Publication status:
Authors: Yao, Zhonghua, Dunn, William R., Woodfield, Emma E. ORCIDORCID record for Emma E. Woodfield, Clark, George, Mauk, Barry H., Ebert, Robert W., Grodent, Denis, Bonfond, Bertrand, Pan, Dongxiao, Rae, I. Jonathan, Ni, Binbin, Guo, Ruilong, Branduardi-Raymont, Graziella, Wibisono, Affelia D., Rodriguez, Pedro, Kotsiaros, Stavros, Ness, Jan-Uwe, Allegrini, Frederic, Kurth, William S., Gladstone, G. Randall, Kraft, Ralph, Sulaiman, Ali H., Manners, Harry, Desai, Ravindra T., Bolton, Scott J.

On this site: Emma Woodfield
9 July, 2021
Science Advances / 7
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