Check Out Jupiter's Intense Northern Lights

Photo: Courtesy of NASA.
Last week, NASA's Juno spacecraft achieved a mission more than five years in the making when it entered Jupiter's orbit. Over the course of the next 20 months, Juno will attempt to learn as much as it can about the solar system's biggest planet — and one that remains quite mysterious to us earthlings.

So, what has NASA learned already? The biggest news to date may be that of Jupiter's otherworldly auroras. The glowing blue lights in the picture above were captured by the Hubble Space Telescope with the help of Juno. Auroras form when high energy particles around magnetic poles collide with gas atoms, NASA explains.

Juno is especially interested in learning more about the magnetic field on Jupiter, and auroras factor into that discovery. So far, NASA has seen that Jupiter's auroras are far larger and more energetic than those on Earth, and they happen constantly. Ours, on the other hand, are rare occurrences that people travel to the ends of the Earth — specifically, the northern and southern poles — to see. They're more commonly referred to as the Northern Lights, or the Aurora borealis, here in the Northern Hemisphere.

Ultimately, there are significant reasons to care about Jupiter's auroras beyond marveling at their beauty. NASA's scientists hope that delving into the planetary makeup of Jupiter will help us learn more about our magnetic field works here on Earth.

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