Scientists finally figure out what causes Jupiter's X-ray aurora

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fairly difficult
For forty years, astronomers have been trying to figure out why Jupiter produces a mysterious but spectacular burst of X-rays every few minutes. Now, finally, scientists have an explanation for Jupiter's X-ray aurora.
For the first time, astronomers have seen the way Jupiter's magnetic field is compressed, which heats particles and directs them along magnetic field lines down into its atmosphere, sparking the planet's X-ray auroras. Photo by ESA/NASA/Yao/Dunn

July 9 (UPI) -- For forty years, astronomers have been trying to figure out why Jupiter produces a mysterious but spectacular burst of X-rays every few minutes.

Now, finally, scientists have an explanation for Jupiter's X-ray aurora.

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The auroral burst -- featuring X-rays, as well as other types of visible and invisible spectra -- is produced by perturbations caused by collisions between high-energy particles and Jupiter's atmosphere.

The phenomenon is similar to the one that produces auroras around Earth's poles, only much more powerful. Jupiter's auroras, which occur every few minutes and yield diversity of spectra, generate hundreds of gigawatts of energy.

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According to the latest study, published Friday in the journal Science Advances, the X-ray bursts emanating from Jupiter's upper atmosphere are sparked by regular vibrations in the planet's…
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