The Hubble Space Telescope has captured images of glowing auroras over Jupiter just days before NASA’s new Juno spaceship arrives to orbit the gas giant.
“These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen,” said Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, UK, and principal investigator of the study.
“It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a fireworks party for the imminent arrival of Juno,” Nichols said in press release.
â€” HubbleTelescope (@HubbleTelescope) June 30, 2016
The new Hubble images show bluish lights that appear to dance over Jupiter’s poles. NASA says the observations of the auroras were supported by measurements made by Juno, which starts orbiting Jupiter on Monday, July 4.
The auroras were photographed by Hubble during a series of observations of Jupiter made in far ultraviolet-light. The full-color disk of Jupiter used in the image was photographed separately by Hubble at an earlier time.
â€” NASA (@NASA) July 4, 2016
Unlike auroras on Earth, NASA says the ones on Jupiter never cease. They are huge and “hundreds of times more energetic than auroras on Earth,” the agency said.
The new observations and measurements from Hubble and Juno will help scientists understand how the sun and other sources influence auroras on Jupiter. Hubble will continue to monitor Jupiter’s auroras for the duration of the Juno mission.
Jupiter is the largest planet in our solar system. The planet is a giant ball of gas 11 times wider than Earth and 300 times more massive than our home world. It’s easy to see in the night sky — appearing as a bright, unblinking star. It’s best known for its Great Red Spot and colorful storm bands. If you have a telescope, you can see four of Jupiter’s largest moons.