Strange Lights on Moon of Jupiter

Strange glows have been seen moving across Jupiter’s moon Io. They were seen and recorded during an eclipse of Io in January by the Cassini spacecraft, on its way to Saturn. Some of the lights may be associated with volcanic eruptions, while others may be caused by Jupiter’s huge magnetic field wafting over the tiny moon during the eclipse.

Cassini’s camera captured images of Io in several colors, ranging from the near-ultraviolet to the near-infrared. The color of the glows tells scientists what elements are responsible for them and these colors indicate the presence of oxygen and sulfur. The diffuse blue glows seem to be restricted to areas deep down in the atmosphere near the surface of Io, while the red glows are much more extensive, reaching heights of up to 560 miles. The blue and red glows near the equator of Io appear to move over the surface of the moon, possibly due to the changing orientation of Jupiter’s magnetic field.

Also visible in the image is a faint blue emission near the north pole of Io, which is believed to be due to a volcanic plume erupting from the mountain known as Tvashtar. This eruption was also observed by Galileo, which has been in orbit around Jupiter since 1995.

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