back to top

This Is What The Northern Lights Look Like On Jupiter

Pretty beautiful and massive.

Posted on

The Hubble Space Telescope has taken this beautiful image of an aurora – like our own Northern Lights – at the north pole of Jupiter.

The image of the aurora was taken in ultraviolet light and put on top of a 2014 picture of the planet itself taken in visible light.

Jupiter is pretty massive – to give you a sense of scale, about three Earths could fit in that red patch to the bottom-left. (It's called the "Great Red Spot", and it's a huge storm which has been going on for centuries.)

Auroras are caused by charged particles from the Sun hitting a planet's magnetic field. Here on Earth they can look pretty spectacular.


And they look even more amazing from space.

This isn't the first time that auroras have been seen on Jupiter. Earlier this year, NASA released images of a solar storm hitting the planet.

But it's one of the most spectacular appearances, according to one of the researchers.

"These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen," Jonathan Nichols of Leicester University, the lead researcher on the study, said in a statement.

It's good timing, as well, because a NASA spaceship called Juno is just approaching Jupiter now. It will be entering orbit around the planet in early July.

And while Hubble is observing the auroras, Juno will be measuring the solar wind – the charged particles that cause the auroras – up close. "It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a firework party for the imminent arrival of Juno," says Nichol.