Global upper-atmospheric heating on Jupiter by the polar aurorae

04 August 2021

Nature volume 596, pages 54–57 (2021)

jupiter ir.jpg
The aurorae are the hottest regions and the image shows how heat may be carried by winds away from the aurora and cause planet-wide heating. (J. O'Donoghue (JAXA)/Hubble/NASA/ESA/A. Simon/J. Schmidt)



(The data presented herein were obtained at the W. M. Keck Observatory, which is operated as a scientific partnership among the California Institute of Technology, the University of California and NASA. The Observatory was made possible by the generous financial support of the W. M. Keck Foundation. The authors wish to recognize and acknowledge the cultural role and reverence that the summit of Maunakea has always had within the indigenous Hawaiian community. We are fortunate to have the opportunity to
conduct observations from this mountain. L.M. was supported by NASA under grant no. NNX17AF14G issued through the Solar System Observations Program and grant no. 80NSSC19K0546 issued through the Solar System Workings Program.)

The data gathered by the investigators in this observation indicates that the observed temperature gradients are strong evidence that the auroral upper atmosphere temperatures are migrating away from the auroral region to lower latitudes and adjacent longitudes, transporting its heat signature along with it. This process must be enabled principally by equatorward-propagating meridional winds which carry the heat generated at the north polar regions of Jupiter by the superheated aurora to the south toward the equator of the gas giant. This heat is then propagated across and throughout the planet by the winds. Unfortunately, I was unable to post the entire articles in question, so you will need to access them online. My congratulations go out to L. Moore and T. Bhakyapaibul of the Center for Space Physics, Boston University, Boston, MA, my alma mater, with UCLA.
Last edited:
Jul 29, 2021
Thank you for sharing.
Could this data be linked to the Jupiter 'energy crisis' recent revealed insights?
Thank you for sharing.
Could this data be linked to the Jupiter 'energy crisis' recent revealed insights?

Yes, Jupiter is five times as far from the Sun as Earth is, and as such should have an average temperature in its upper atmosphere of approximately negative 73 degrees Celsius. Instead, the planet’s temperate is an astonishing 426 Celsius, a figure that has left scientists puzzled for the past half-century.
“We found that Jupiter’s intense aurora, the most powerful in the solar system, is responsible for heating the entire planet’s upper atmosphere to surprisingly high temperatures,” said Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (Jaxa) James O’Donoghue, using findings from NASA’s spacecraft Juno in collaboration with Jaxa’s Hisaki satellite and astronomers from Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
  • Like
Reactions: Lariliss
Mar 4, 2020
Isn't that a neat dynamic. We get heated at the center, and when it spreads out, we get a handed Coriolis effect. It's a non bander.

Jupiter gets heated at the poles, no Coriolis, and we get a banded atmosphere.

Pretty cool.