Astronomers have used JWST to find a brown dwarf with polar auroras like the Earth, or Jupiter. This is surprising because the brown dwarf, dubbed W1935, is a free-floating object, meaning it isn’t part of another star system. Therefore, there’s no solar wind available to generate any Northern Lights. Instead, the auroras are seemingly generated from methane emissions in the planet’s atmosphere, interacting with the interstellar plasma. Another theory is that it perhaps has an active but unseen moon contributing to the emissions.Continue reading “A Solo Brown Dwarf Found With Auroras”
While many of us were celebrating the end of 2023 and the coming of 2024, the Sun was having its own celebration blasting an X5.0 flare from sunspot region 3536. Records show this to be the most powerful flare seen since 10 September 2017 when an X8.2 flare erupted. The flare is expected to arrive around Jan 2 – EEK that’s today! Get your aurora watching kit out!Continue reading “The Sun Just Blasted its Strongest Flare in 6 Years. Get Ready for Auroras”
Astrophotographer Todd Salat was out in the early hours of April 15, 2023, hoping to capture an aurora display over Donnelly Dome near Delta Junction, Alaska. While the stunning aurora didn’t disappoint, Salat was in for a surprise: a weird spiral appeared in the sky over the summit.
“I had no idea of what I was seeing,” Salat said on his website, “but this phenomenon appears to be caused by engine exhaust from a SpaceX Transporter-7 mission that launched southward on the Falcon 9 about three hours earlier from the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.”Continue reading “Aurora Hunter Todd Salat Captures a Bizarre Spiral Made by a SpaceX Fuel Dump”
Auroras are some of Earth’s most spectacular natural phenomena. Travelers come from far and wide to see the incredible Northern Lights and wonder at their beauty. Once thought to be magical in nature, most science fans understand that the lights are formed by the solar wind interacting with our magnetosphere. But did you know they also make sounds?Continue reading “Even if you can’t see Auroras, You Can Sometimes Hear Them. Here’s What They Sound Like”
On July 5th, 2016, NASA’s Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter and began its four-year mission (which has since been extended to 2025) to study the gas giant’s atmosphere, composition, magnetosphere, and gravitational environment. Juno is the first dedicated mission to study Jupiter since the Galileo probe studied the system between 1995 and 2003. The images and data it has sent back to Earth have revealed much about Jupiter’s atmosphere, aurorae, polar storms, internal structure, and moons.
In addition, the Juno mission has allowed astronomers to learn more about how magnetic interaction between some of Jupiter’s moons and its atmosphere leads the gas giant to experience aurorae around its northern and southern poles. After analyzing data from Juno’s payload, a team of researchers from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) observed how streams of electrons from Ganymede (Jupiter’s largest moon) leave an “auroral footprint” in Jupiter’s atmosphere.Continue reading “Jupiter and Ganymede are Connected by Magnetic Fields”
Auroral activity on Earth varies over time. As the magnetic poles drift, auroras can appear at different latitudes around the globe. Solar activity also affects them, with powerful solar storms pushing the auroras further into mid-latitudes.
In an effort to better understand how auroras move around, how they’ll move in the future, and when powerful solar storms might pose a threat, a team of researchers have tracked auroral activity for the last 3,000 years.Continue reading “Researchers Use Ancient Literature to Track 3,000 Years of Auroras”
Vivid green and purple aurora swirled and danced across the entire night sky in Sweden recently. The nighttime light show was captured by an all-sky camera in Kiruna, Sweden, which is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Weather Service Network.Continue reading “Here’s the View From Sweden During the Recent Solar Storm”
The ESA’s Rosetta mission to Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko ended four years ago. On September 30th 2016 the spacecraft was directed into a controlled impact with the comet, putting an end to its 12.5 year mission. Scientists are still working with all its data and making new discoveries.
A new study based on Rosetta data shows that Comet 67P has its own aurora.Continue reading “Even Comets Can Have Auroras. Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko Does”
Our eyes can’t see them, but Martian auroras are there, and more commonplace than we once thought. The Martian auroras were first discovered in 2016 by NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft. Now some new results are expanding our knowledge of these unusual auroras.Continue reading “Mars Has Auroras Too, We Just Can’t See Them”
Scientists have known for some time that Earth’s atmosphere loses several hundred tons of oxygen each day. They understand how this oxygen loss happens on Earth’s night side, but they’re not sure how it happens on the day side. They do know one thing though; they happen during auroras.
According to a press release from NASA’s Earth Observatory, no two oxygen outflow events are exactly the same, which makes understanding them a challenge. They call the events ‘fountains of gas’ that escape the Earth during auroral activity, and the Earth Observatory has a mission dedicated to understanding them.
Continue reading “Did You Know that the Earth Loses Several Hundred Tons of Atmosphere to Space Every Day?”