Giant rotating plasma waves detected at the edge of Jupiter’s magnetosphere: Science alert

Giant waves have been detected in the plasma at Jupiter’s boundary. Magnetic fieldScientists have discovered.

Juno’s data show that the Jupiter probe continues to dip through these waves, invisible to the naked eye, as it orbits the giant planet. The discovery helps astronomers understand how mass and energy are transferred from the solar wind to the Jovian planetary environment.

Indeed, such waves are not unknown in the solar system. are known as Kelvin-Helmhatz Waves, and occur when there is a difference in velocity at the boundary between two fluids. They are commonly found in windy areas on the surface of lakes and oceans Currents in waterOr even in the middle Bands of clouds In a planet’s atmosphere.

observed in them Boundary of Earth’s magnetosphere Also, not mentioned near Saturn. The conditions under which they are formed Not well understoodHowever, finding them closer to Jupiter may provide some clues.

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„The Kelvin-Helmholtz instability is a fundamental physical process that occurs when the solar and stellar winds interact with planetary magnetic fields in our solar system and throughout the universe.” Says astrophysicist Jake Montgomery University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and Southwestern Research Institute (SwRI).

„Juno has observed these waves during several of its orbits, providing strong evidence that Kelvin-Helmholtz instabilities play an active role in the interaction between the solar wind and Jupiter.”

Even though there is not much pressure in space, the force of diffusing particles is also not absolutely zero. A magnetosphere is a kind of bubble Plasma The space environment created by an object’s magnetic field is defined magnetic field. This is the boundary where the constant pressure of the wind blowing from the Sun, the solar wind, balances the pressure of the magnetosphere.

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The solar wind blows from the Sun to the outer Solar System at very high speeds, while the plasma in the magnetosphere does its own thing, orbiting the planet. So the interface between the two will be interesting.

Visualization of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves in Jupiter’s magnetosphere. (UCAR/Zhang et al., Geophysical Research Letters2017)

Jupiter’s environment is a pretty wild place. of Jupiter The magnetic field is hugeAnd its volcanic moon Io is a powerful one Source of charged particles, material continues to belch into a large plasma torus orbiting a large gas giant. Jupiter’s moon Ganymede produces its own relatively strong magnetic field.

The discovery of Kelvin-Helmholtz waves in Jupiter’s magnetosphere could help astronomers understand the complex interactions taking place in Jovian space.

„Juno’s extensive time near Jupiter’s magnetosphere enables detailed observations of phenomena such as the Kelvin-Helmholtz instability in this region,” Astrophysicist Robert Ebert says: of SwRI and UTSA.

„This interaction of the solar wind is important because it can transport plasma and energy across the magnetosphere, into Jupiter’s magnetosphere, and act within that system.”

Waves have not been detected in many of Juno’s magnetopause crossings, and this has important implications. Studying the conditions under which these waves form can help us understand how they form, which has far-reaching implications.

For example, contractions have been detected in the heliopause—the boundary between the solar wind and interstellar space, far beyond the planets. Understanding what drives Kelvin–Helmholtz waves can help identify the dynamics at play at the boundaries of the Solar System.

Published in the thesis Geophysical Research Letters.

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