Magnetic Fields Cause Ganymede's Light Show
Wired reports on an interesting astronomical phenomenon. Images from the Hubble Space Telescope show that striking auroras appear at the magnetic poles of Ganymede, one of Jupiter's 63 moons. Ganymede, which is larger than Pluto and which is only dwarfed by the eight planets and the sun in our solar system, is the only moon of Jupiter with its own strong magnetic field.
The stellar light show, called 'auroral footprints' are caused by interactions with Jupiter's plasma as the moon orbits the planet. Until the newest Hubble images, the size and exact reason behind the footprints was unclear.
“By analyzing the exact locations of these features and how their shape and brightness changes as Io and Gaynmede move in their orbit around Jupiter," says astrophysicist Denis Grodent from the University of Liege, "we have created the most detailed picture to date of how Jupiter and these moons are electromagnetically interconnected.”
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