Images of colourful flares of lightning-like electricity has been captured by NASA’s juno spacecraft in jupiter’s atmosphere. It was revealed that these lightening-like electricity flares are high in jupiter’s atmosphere.
These events, which comprises of jellyfish-shaped ‘sprites’ and glowing disks known as ‘elves’, also appear high up in Earth’s atmosphere during thunderstorms.
The phenomenum was first reported in 1989. Researchers predicted that planets that produce lightning would most likely produce these electricity flares like Jupiter.
However, no one had ever encountered alien sprites or elves before now.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft has been exploring Jupiter since 2016 and acquiring images of its aurorae in ultraviolet light. A group of scientists processing those images have discovered something unusual.
Rohini Giles,a researcher in the team said in a press conference during the annual meeting of the American Astronomical Association’s division for planetary sciences, on Tuesday, that: “In the process of putting together those images, we noticed that very occasionally we saw these surprising, short-lived, bright flashes,”
“We then went and searched through all of the data that we’ve taken over four years of the mission and we found a total of 11 flashes all with very similar properties,” she added.
Everyone of these flares lasted just a few milliseconds.
A new research on these flares was published by Giles’ team in the journal of Geophysical Research on Tuesday.
Sprites appear as long, red tendrils, on Earth and sometimes trail down from a diffuse halo. They occur when a lightning strike produces a high-altitude “quasi-electrostatic field,” Giles explained.
In some cases, lightning strikes produces electromagnetic pulses upward. The pulses create glowing disks called elves.
“On Earth, sprites and elves appear reddish in colour due to their interaction with nitrogen in the upper atmosphere,” Giles highlighted. “But on Jupiter, the upper atmosphere mostly consists of hydrogen, so they would likely appear either blue or pink.”
NASA’s Juno spacecraft is unable to confirm if these events were generated by lightning strikes, since the probe’s lightning-detecting mechanism is on the other side of the spacecraft from its UV imaging instrument.
“We’re continuing to look for more telltale signs of elves and sprites every time Juno does a science pass,” Giles said.
“Now that we know what we are looking for, it will be easier to find them at Jupiter and on other planets. And comparing sprites and elves from Jupiter with those here on Earth will help us better understand electrical activity in planetary atmospheres.”