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Solar control on Jupiter's equatorial X-ray emissions

Minimum credit line: Image courtesy of Graziella Branduardi-Raymont and ESA. (for details, see Conditions of Use).

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About this Image

The false-colour image shows Jupiter as seen by XMM-Newton's EPIC-pn camera in April 2003. Jupiter was observed in order to investigate the origin of its X-ray emissions. The image is false-coloured as follows: soft (0.2-0.5 keV) events are shown in red, medium (0.5-0.7 keV) events are shown in green, and hard (0.7-2.0 keV) events are shown in blue. It is clearly visible that the emission from the equatorial regions is much harder than from around the poles. The investigators believe that the polar emissions originate from capture and acceleration of ions from the solar wind in Jupiter's magnetosphere. This process would be followed by charge exchange, producing the observed X-ray emissions. The equatorial X-rays are believed to be scattered light from the Sun. This is particularly interesting because solar flares, which can be extremely dangerous for astronauts and affect radio signals in the Earth's atmosphere, may be detected by changes in Jupiter's X-ray emission. This means if the flare is on a side of the Sun so that it is not visible from Earth but is facing Jupiter, we may be able to observe it indirectly using scattered light from Jupiter. During the observations there was a moderately strong solar flare, which was observed as a corresponding increase in the disk X-ray brightness.

Investigator(s):  G. Branduardi-Raymont, A. Bhardwaj, R. F. Elsner, G. R. Gladstone, G. Ramsay, P. Rodriguez, R. Soria, J. H. Waite Jr., T. E. Cravens

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XMM-Newton; Europe's X-Ray Observatory
Last update: 09-Oct-2013 by