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Press release: “How Jupiter’s unusual magnetospheric topology structures its aurora” on Sciences Advances


BEIJING—For more than twenty years, Jupiter’s auroras have been explained through the theoretical lenses of Earth’s auroras, despite some striking differences between the two planets’ lights. Some aspects of it, including the bright persistent aurora near the Jovian polar caps that are generally dark at the Earth, have puzzled researchers for decades.

Now, thanks to the outstanding discovery made by a team of scientists led Dr. Zhang Binzheng (Hong Kong University) and Dr. Yao Zhonghua (Institute of Geology and Geophysics, Chinese Academy of Sciences), who is also the leader of the ISSI-BJ International Team “The morphology of auroras at Earth and giant planets: characteristics and their magnetospheric implications”, we have obtained new valuable insights on Jupiter’s distinctive auroral morphology. The research results, retrieved thanks to supercomputer simulations, have been published on the highly prestigious scientific journal Science Advances on April 9, 2021. 

Fig. 1 Polar projections of Northern UV aurora at Jupiter and Earth. 

(A) Juno-UVS, image was acquired on 19 May 2017 at 04:21:56; UVS, ultraviolet spectrograph. (B) WIC image was acquired on 14 January 2001 at 05:00:55UT. LT, local time; WIC, wide-field maging camera.

These findings challenge the current widely accepted explanations of Jupiter’s aurora and will revolutionize textbooks on the topic. As stated by one of the contributors, Denis Grodent (Liege University, Belgium),”…the near-pole emissions have been discovered for more than twenty years by the Hubble telescope, now we finally understand why they exist at Jupiter but not at Earth.”.




Media Contact

Laura Baldis

PR and Editorial Manager

International Space Science Institute-Beijing (ISSI-BJ)



Notes to editor:

1.Research article:

Zhang, Binzheng, Peter A. Delamere, Zhonghua Yao, Bertrand Bonfond, D. Lin Kareem A. Sorathia, Oliver J. Brambles, William Lotko, Jeff S. Garretson, Viacheslav G. Merkin, Denis Grodent, William R. Dunn, and John G. Lyon. How Jupiter’s unusual magnetospheric topology structures its aurora. Science Advances, Vol. 7(15). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd1204

The article is available at the journal website:


Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article.


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