Jupiter’s intense auroras superheat its upper atmosphere

Jupiter’s upper atmosphere is hundreds of degrees warmer than expected. After a decades-long search, scientists may have pinned down a likely source of that anomalous heat. The culprit, a new study suggests, is the planet’s intense auroras, Jupiter’s version of Earth’s northern and southern lights (SN: 6/8/21).

The temperature of the upper atmosphere of Jupiter, which orbits an average distance of 778 million kilometers from the sun, should be about –73° Celsius, says James O’Donoghue, a planetary scientist at the JAXA Institute of Space and Astronautical Science in Sagamihara, Japan. That’s largely due to the feeble illumination of the sun there, which amounts to less than 4 percent of

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