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Jupiter flashes pulsating southern pole, boffins understandably baffled

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Leon Bailey
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Misbehaving gas giant's ends light up independently

Jupiter’s vivid northern and southern lights flash independently from each other, a discovery that has surprised scientists.

The results published in Nature Astronomy on Monday reveal that the gas giant’s x-ray emissions are erratic at its north pole; the swirling patterns of light continuously brighten and dim over time.

William Dunn, lead author of the paper and a researcher at University College London and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said: “We didn't expect to see Jupiter's X-ray hot spots pulsing independently as we thought their activity would be coordinated through the planet's magnetic field."

Unlike Jupiter, the activity on Earth’s northern and southern lights are pretty similar and approximately mirror each other.

The dazzling glow of auroras are generated when a barrage of charged particles from the solar wind are swept into the upper atmosphere along a planet’s magnetic field lines.

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Leon Bailey
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