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  • Writer's pictureMike Meynell

Seeing Jupiter’s Aurora in a Different Light by Dr Affelia Wibisono

Updated: Mar 5, 2023

Our first Christmas Lecture since returning to face-to-face meetings was given by Dr Affelia Wibisono in the wonderful surroundings of Queen’s House at the National Maritime Museum, our usual lecture theatre venue being unavailable.

Entrance to Queen's House

Affelia is currently an Astronomy Education Officer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, having recently completed a PhD at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory, as well as being a regular presenter in the ROG Planetarium over the last 8 years.

After a few words of introduction by Tej, Affelia gave a talk on the mystery of Jupiter’s aurora. Jupiter’s aurora are around 1,000 times more powerful than those on Earth and are constantly active.

Affelia, Tej and the Flamsteed audience

Affelia gave us an overview of the various missions that have analysed Jupiter’s X-ray aurora, which were first discovered by the Voyager 1 space probe in 1979. It was not clear how the energy required to produce the aurora was generated. The most recent research used data from the XMM-Newton telescope, the Hubble Space Telescope and the Juno spacecraft, leading to a complete view of what causes Jupiter’s X-ray aurora.

Affelia finished by explaining that the process found on Jupiter could also be applicable to the other outer planets; Saturn, Uranus and Neptune… and may also be applicable to exoplanets orbiting other stars. The SMILE mission is due to launch in 2025 which will hopefully answer questions about the solar wind and its interaction with the magnetosphere, leading to a greater understanding about auroral activity.

Our thanks to Affelia for an excellent lecture.

Flamsteed members who missed the live event, or those who would like to see it again, can find a recording of the talk here (password supplied to members via email):

Photos from the evening by Bobby Manoo, Adrian Challinor, Gurinder Lall and Poly Philippou.

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