RGS spectrum of Jupiter's Corona
Credit: Graziella Branduardi-Raymont (MSSL, UCL) and ESA

Jupiter's Crown

A mysterious glow was expected from just beyond Jupiter - high energy emission from swirling, hot electrons. It was never detected - until now. Thanks to the enormous sensitivity of the XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory and the exquisite resolution of the observatory's Reflection Grating Spectrometer, astronomers have finally detected this glow. The image above shows the X-ray spectrum of Jupiter's corona ("crown"), a region of hot gas trapped by Jupiter's magnetic field. The RGS spectrum detects strong emission from Oxygen atoms which have lost nearly all their electrons, along with emission from some iron atoms, allowing sensitive measures of the abundances of those elements. Also, the RGS showed that the corona strongly varies. This variation either indicates a dependence on the strength of the solar wind, or perhaps variations in the strength of Jupiter's magnetic field.

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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:26:05 EDT

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