Space Scientists Discover the Mystery of Jupiter’s ‘Energy Crisis’

Space Scientists Discover the Mystery of Jupiter's 'Energy Crisis'

Authored By admin

December 2, 2021

The average temperature is around minus 100 degrees Fahrenheit. or a chilly minus 73 degrees Celsius, based on the amount of sunlight received. Instead, the measured temperature rises to around 800 degrees Fahrenheit (426 degrees Celsius). The source of heat has remained a mystery for 50 years. Thus, scientists refer to the disparity as a global “energy crisis.”

Despite its distance from the sun, the giant planet in our solar system is warm. Jupiter is more than five astronomical units, or a million miles, away from Earth. According to NASA, Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is cold. Scientists estimate it should be around -100 degrees Fahrenheit (-73 degrees Celsius).

The temperature in Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is 800 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers from Leicester collaborate with JAXA, Boston University, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, NICT to uncover Jupiter’s atmospheric heating mechanism.

WHAT EXACTLY ARE AURORAS?

Auroras are a regular occurrence in our solar system. They occur on planets with strong magnetic fields such as Earth and Jupiter. (Auroras exist on Mars and Venus. They function on worlds due to the patchy magnetic environment in those regions.)

When charged particles get trapped in a magnetic field, Aurora takes place. These spiral along invisible magnetic field lines towards the planet’s magnetic poles. It strikes atoms and molecules in the atmosphere to release light and energy. It results in the colorful light show known as the Aurora Borealis and Australis. They are also known as the northern and southern lights on Earth. Material erupting from Jupiter’s volcanic moon causes auroras in the Solar System.

‘AURORA’ The source of Jupiter’s Energy

Global models of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere predicted that aurora-heated winds heading to the equator would be redirected by westward winds caused by the planet’s rapid rotation. Yet, this new observational result suggests that such trapping does not occur. The westward winds may be weaker than expected when compared to equatorward winds. The team records the aurora by sending a pulse of heat toward Jupiter’s equator. It combines high-resolution temperature maps from Keck II with magnetic flux data. 

The researchers used data from three observatories: NASA’s Juno spacecraft orbit around Jupiter, JAXA’s Hisaki satellite, and Hawaii’s Keck Observatory. These observatories collected data on Jupiter, which scientists then analyzed and traced charged particles from the poles to the equator. Scientists created a temperature map of Jupiter’s upper atmosphere using 10,000 data points.

Before, upper atmospheric temperature maps used images made up of only a few pixels. Thus temperature changes around the world. It gives few hints about the additional heat source—the only included measurements with uncertainty in the recorded value of less than 5%.

“Picture this like a beach: if the hot atmosphere is water, the magnetic field mapped by Juno is the shoreline, and the aurora is the ocean. We found that water left the ocean and flooded the land, and Juno revealed where that shoreline was to help us understand the degree of flooding,” James O’Donoghue said.

The causes of Jupiter’s energy crisis

Scientists have been confused for 50 years why Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is so hot. Jupiter’s energy crisis is the name given to this fundamental puzzle. Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune, the other giant planets, are also more desirable than expected. As a result, scientists refer to this issue as the ‘giant planet energy crisis.’ Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is hotter than expected. Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is around -100 degrees Fahrenheit. 

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