tech2 News StaffAug 09, 2018 12:58:44 IST
Jupiter's moon Ganymede, rarely ever in the limelight, appears to be emanating "extraordinary" and intense waves, according to geoscientists.
Back on Earth, a team led by the German Research Centre for Geosciences, have been 'listening' to these rhythmic echos in what they describe as 'Jupiter's wave environment', recorded by the Galileo spacecraft, the unmanned space probe studying Jupiter and its moons.
In a recent study, the findings of which are published in Nature Communications, the team assessed the chorus waves coming off Ganymede and Europa, and found that the 'whistle' coming from them was over 1 million times as intense as other moons and planets in the vicinity.
While space is largely vacuum, it does have a lot of charged particles. These charges come across celestial bodies, be it planets or stars, and interact with the magnetic fields of these bodies, following a more directed pattern of movement under this influence.
As NASA puts it, the charged particles often get thrown around violently by plasma waves (clumps of electrons and ions) and their motions can sometimes end up being rhythmic.
Chorus waves aren't just a reality in Ganymede and Europa — it is also what makes the Northern Lights aurora, and the high-energy 'killer' electrons around Earth that can damage spacecrafts.
But Ganymede and Europa orbit Jupiter. They not only have magnetic fields of their own, but are enveloped in the enormous magnetic field of Jupiter — some 20,000 times as strong as Earth's. The authors describe this as a key reason for the waves being so powerful.
Ganymede is also surrounded by strong plasma waves, which the new study clarifies that these aren't accidental phenomena, they appear to be systemic.
The findings from Jupiter's waves has widened the fundamental understanding of plasma behaviour, also opening up the possibility of a new source of geoenergy.
However, the researchers are still unsure exactly how significant their findings might turn out to be.
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