ESO Captures Rare Glimpse of Jupiter’s Corona


The European Southern Observatory (ESO) recently published an image of Jupiter in a way many are unlikely to ever witness—with a glowing halo emanating around it. The picture, which was taken by Petr Horálek using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, showcases Jupiter’s beautiful corona. A corona is an optical phenomenon that produces a bright glowing effect around an object. The lovely red and green colors just above the mountains in this image are due to airglow, another optical phenomenon.

Every star has a corona, but the one around Jupiter is much different than the ones surrounding stars. The corona around Jupiter is the result of the diffraction of sunlight (it can also be from moonlight, other stars, or bright planets). When the light passes through Earth’s atmosphere, individual water droplets or ice crystals can diffract the light, causing a halo to appear.

Stars, such as our Sun, have a solar corona, which consists of surrounding plasma. Solar coronas are also much more significant, often extending millions of miles outward from the star in every direction. The Sun’s corona can best be viewed during a solar eclipse, as the Moon covers everything but the ringed aura. Many planets have a corona as well, but instead of plasma, it consists of whatever particles exist in the exosphere of the planet's atmosphere. Earth’s corona, called the geocorona, consists of a cloud of neutral hydrogen atoms, which reflects far-ultraviolet light.

If you’d like to view higher resolutions of this image or want a wallpaper, ESO offers the picture in multiple different sizes and formats here.

Submitted by James Heidlebaugh on Sat, 02/29/2020 - 20:02