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Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/UCL/W.Dunn et al, Optical: NASA/STScI

Solar storms trigger X-ray auroras on Jupiter

If you could normally see X-rays, they'd be awe-inspiring.

X-ray: NASA/CXC/UCL/W.Dunn et al, Optical: NASA/STScI

It's no secret that auroras are a common presence on other planets... however, you might be surprised by the ones you can't usually see. A new study using NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has caught solar storms creating X-ray auroras on Jupiter as they interacted with the gas giant's magnetosphere (that is, the space controlled by its magnetic field). They make Earth's northern lights seem downright quaint by comparison -- they cover areas larger than our entire home planet, and they're "hundreds of times" more energetic than what you see in the night sky.

The observations weren't made solely to get some pretty pictures. NASA hopes to use the data to understand how the X-rays form, which should shed light on both Jupiter and the solar winds themselves. One thing's for sure: these findings are a reminder that even the most impressive natural phenomena on Earth can frequently be eclipsed by what you find elsewhere in space.

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