History of Chandra X-Ray Observatory



Washington, DC, United States

This Chandra image of Jupiter shows concentrations of aurora x-rays near the north and south poles due to a single `hot spot' that pulsates with a period of 45 minutes, similar to high-latitude radio pulsation previously detected by NASA's Galileo and Cassini spacecraft. Previous x-ray detections of Jupiter have been made with other x-ray telescopes, but did not reveal that the sources of the x-rays, energetic oxygen and sulfur ions, would be located so near the poles. Previous theories held that ions were mostly coming from Jupiter's moon, lo. Chandra's ability to pinpoint the source of the x-rays discards this theory since ions coming from near lo's orbit carnot reach the observed high latitudes. One possibility is that particles flowing out from the Sun are captured in the outer regions of Jupiter's magnetic field, then accelerated and directed toward its magnetic pole. Once captured, the ions would bounce back and forth in the magnetic field from Jupiter's north pole to the south pole in an oscillating motion that could explain the pulsation.

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  • Title: History of Chandra X-Ray Observatory
  • Date Created: 2000-12-18
  • Rights: MSFC
  • Album: rlobrie1