Jupiter’s Highest-Energy Light Ever Detected

Video Player

Video Versions

Produced by the Space Telescope Science Institute’s Office of Public Outreach in collaboration with NASA’s Universe of Learning partners: Caltech/IPAC, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian, and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Video imagery:
  • Juno spacecraft image of Jupiter: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Kevin M. Gill
  • NuSTAR detection with graphic overlay: NASA/JPL-Caltech
  • Jupiter with illustrated magnetic field: NASA/JPL/SwRI

Writer: Leah Ramsay
Designer: Leah Hustak, Joseph Olmsted
Science review: Dr. Quyen Hart
Education review: Jim Manning
Music from Music for Non-Profits

Text, News from the Universe
February 25, 2022. Jupiter's highest-energy light ever detected
NASA's NuStar space observatory has solved a decades-old mystery: where are Jupiter's high-energy X-rays?
Nu Star confirmed high-energy X-rays for the first time, emitted from Jupiter's polar regions.
The X-rays are the highest-energy light ever detected from a Solar System planet, other than Earth.
The X-rays were created by bremstrahlung emission: fast-moving particles from the moon Io run into Jupiter's charged atmosphere, slowing down and losing energy in the form of X-rays.
The process by which Jupiter's magnetic fields accelerate the particles to such high speeds is still unknown, an exciting new chapter in the investigation of high-energy X-rays.
This news was brought to you in part by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA