Jupiter in X-rays
Credit: Graziella Branduardi-Raymont and ESA

Jupiter in X-rays

The interaction of the sun's wind with planetary magnetic fields produces fireworks, like the northern and southern lights on earth. A new XMM-Newton X-ray Observatory image of Jupiter shows in detail how the sun lights up the Jovian atmosphere. The X-ray image above is color-coded by X-ray energy: red for low energy X-rays, green for medium energy and blue for high energy emission. There's significant segregation of types of X-rays on the disk of Jupiter. Low energy emission from the north and south pole is probably produced by a process known as charge exchange. The high energy X-rays near the equator are probably solar X-rays scattered by Jupiter itself. This means that Jupiter acts as an X-ray mirror to allow astronomers to monitor the state of the sun's X-ray activity.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

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