New data from the Juno spacecraft gives more evidence that sprites arcing hundreds of miles occur in the atmosphere of Jupiter. These transient luminous events, or TLEs, were captured with UV sensors.
Scientists predicted these bright, superfast flashes of light should also be present in Jupiter’s immense roiling atmosphere, but their existence remained theoretical. Then, in the summer of 2019, researchers working with data from Juno’s ultraviolet spectrograph instrument (UVS) discovered something unexpected: a bright, narrow streak of ultraviolet emission that disappeared in a flash.
Lead author Rohini Giles said:
On Earth, sprites and elves appear reddish in color due to their interaction with nitrogen in the upper atmosphere. But on Jupiter, the upper atmosphere mostly consists of hydrogen, so they would likely appear either blue or pink.
Earlier this year, NASA released other illustrations of TLEs and “mushballs” likely present in Jupiter’s atmosphere.
They are quite lovely on earth:
Image: NASA / JPL