Hubble Space Telescope Captures Auroras on Uranus

The Uranus aurora photos were captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, marking the first time the icy blue planet’s light show has been seen by an observatory near Earth. Until now, the only views of auroras on Uranus were from the NASA Voyager probe that zipped by the planet in 1986. Hubble recorded auroras on the day side of Uranus only twice, both times in 2011, while the planet was 2.5 billion miles (4 billion kilometers) from Earth.

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IBEX and TWINS Observe a Solar Storm

Sun spewed a two million mile per hour stream of charged particles toward the invisible magnetic fields surrounding Earth, known as the magnetosphere on April 5, 2010. As the particles interacted with the magnetic fields, the incoming stream of energy caused stormy conditions near Earth. Some scientists believe that it was this solar storm that interfered with commands to a communications satellite, Galaxy-15, which subsequently foundered and drifted, taking almost a year to return to its station.

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Giant Magnetic Bubbles Around Venus

Magnetic phenomenon that causes auroras on Earth has now surprisingly been discovered creating giant magnetic bubbles around Venus, a planet without a magnetic field. The Northern and Southern Lights on Earth are caused by magnetic lines of force breaking and connecting with each other. This process, known as magnetic reconnection, can explosively convert magnetic energy to heat and kinetic energy.

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Northern Lights Mystery

According to a new study the electrons responsible for the auroras, also known as the northern and southern lights, are likely accelerated to incredible speeds in an active region of Earth’s magnetosphere. This region is 1,000 times larger than scientists had thought possible, providing enough volume to generate lots of the fast-moving electrons. Researchers analyzed data gathered by various spacecraft, including the European Space Agency’s four Cluster probes. They also performed simulations using a supercomputer called Kraken at the United States Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. Kraken has 112,000 processors working in parallel.

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