Photograph by NASA/CXC/Randy Gladstone, Southwest Research Institute
Chandra reveals Jupiter's poles glowing with x-rays, colored in crimson. The most intense hotspot, at the north pole, pulsates every 45 minutes. This new image of Jupiter turns an old theory on its head. Scientists once believed that Jupiter emitted x-rays fueled by ions from Io, the planet's volcanic moon. But ions from Io would not reach these high polar latitudes, so scientists now think that the high-energy particles might come from the outer reaches of Jupiter's magnetosphere, where heavy ions from the sun interact with Jupiter's magnetic field. The particles likely hit Jupiter's atmosphere, migrate to its magnetic poles, then oscillate between the poles, causing the dramatic light show captured by Chandra.