NASA’s Juno spacecraft has gathered interesting information about the flashes of light which take place in the upper levels of Jupiter’s atmosphere. The discovery marks the first time when transient luminous effects are spotted on another planet.
Some researchers anticipated that the flashes of light can take place on Jupiter, but at that time, there was no way to prove the theory. In 2019 a team of researchers who were analyzing data from the ultraviolet spectrograph carried by Juno made an interesting discovery.
Spark of ultraviolet
An ultraviolet emission which was bright and narrow could be observed. The UVS was developed with the aim to observe that northern and southern lights on the planet. However, researchers were fascinated by the presence of UV light in areas where it shouldn’t have been present.
The name of sprites comes from popular characters in English folklore, and it was selected by the scientists as an alternate name for the luminous events which are created by the thunderstorms that take place in the lower layers of the atmosphere. Sprites also occur on Earth and last only for a few milliseconds.
Long and bright
A sprite features a central point that can be quite a long as well as tendrils that go up and down. Elves (Emission of Light and Very Low Frequency perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources) can also appear in the form of flat disks that glow brightly and are considerably longer.
Sprites and elves encountered on Earth have a reddish tint due to the presence of nitrogen in the upper atmosphere. Since the upper atmosphere of Jupiter contains more hydrogen, they are blue or pink. Juno has managed to spot eleven notable events in an area where lightning storms tend to form.
It is unlikely that they were mega-bolts since they took place at 186 miles (or 300 kilometers) above the water-cloud layer, where most storms take place.