On July 4, NASA’s Juno spacecraft will bravely plunge into Jupiter’s mysterious orbit, where it will take measurements and figure out what it’s like beneath all that gas. Before that, take a peek at this amazing new image NASA released this week showcasing the gas giant’s otherworldly auroras. It almost looks like the planet is wearing a kind of crown.
Using the Hubble Telescope’s ultraviolet capabilities, scientists were able to capture an image of the planet’s Northern Lights, which are larger than our entire planet. These lights are created when high-energy particles collide with atoms of gas. The results are beautiful.
“These auroras are very dramatic and among the most active I have ever seen,” said Jonathan Nichols from the University of Leicester, U.K. “It almost seems as if Jupiter is throwing a firework party for the imminent arrival of Juno.”
NASA said that in addition to these auroras being larger than Earth, they’re also hundreds of times more energetic than the auroras you’d see on our home planet. The lights never go out, constantly grabbing charged particles from their surroundings.
The data captured by Hubble is going to take several more months to analyze, according to NASA, which means scientists are just scratching the surface. Until we learn more, sit back and admire Jupiter’s breathtaking auroras.