NASA has shared a stunning image of a neon green flash shining through Jupiter’s thick swirling clouds.
The light comes from lightning crackling near the gas giant’s north pole, which astronomers said is similar to a natural phenomenon on Earth.
On our planet, lightning strikes originate from water clouds and occur frequently near the equator, while on Jupiter, lightning is likely to also occur in clouds containing ammonia-water solution and can be seen mainly near the poles.
The Juno spacecraft captured the epic image during its 31st close flyby when it was 19,900 miles above the cloud tops of Jupiter.
The image was taken in December 2020 but released on Thursday after a citizen scientist processed the data in the spacecraft’s JunoCam instrument in 2022.
The natural phenomenon on the gas giant is called Jovian lightning and it was first observed by the Voyager 1 spacecraft when it flew by Jupiter in March 1979.
And it wasn’t until Juno visited the planet that scientists determined that Jovian lightning was similar to what happens on Earth.
“No matter what planet you live on, lightning strikes act like radio transmitters — they send out radio waves,” Shannon Brown of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, a Juno scientist and lead author of the paper, said in a 2018 statement. When it flashes across the sky.
But until Juno, all lightning signals have been recorded by spacecraft [Voyagers 1 and 2, Galileo, Cassini] It was limited to visual detections or from the kilohertz range of the radio spectrum, although signals in the megahertz range were searched for.
Read more: NASA captures stunning image of Jupiter’s moon Io, revealing lava lakes glowing bright red
The image shows Io’s many volcanoes as bright lights, some erupting lava fountains dozens of miles high.
Many theories have been put forward to explain this, but no single theory can command daring as an answer.
Juno has been exploring Jupiter since 2016, capturing new snapshots of the mysterious planet that scientists hope will help them better understand the turbulent world.
Lightning on the distant planet only occurs in clouds that contain an ammonia-water solution, while on Earth, lighting occurs in watery clouds.
The poles, which do not have this higher level of warmth and thus no stability in the atmosphere, allow warm gases from Jupiter’s interior to rise up, leading to convection and creating the ingredients for lightning.
Juno also captured the blue “goblins” and “elves” dancing in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
Such transient luminous events occur on Earth during a thunderstorm, but they are the first to be observed in another world.
Bright, usually unpredictable flashes of light form on our planet 60 miles above large thunderstorms, producing flares that last for milliseconds.
The flashes, which are considered to be orcs, resemble jellyfish with long tendrils that streak toward the ground, and the elves appear as a glowing, flat disk that can extend up to 200 miles across the sky.
Juno scientists detected the cosmic offerings in 2020, which appeared 186 miles above the altitude where most of the gas giant’s lightning forms – a layer of water cloud.
The researchers can also rule out that these were just huge bolts of lightning due to the high altitude where the majority of Jupiter’s lightning forms.
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