Aurora on Other Planets

Almost all planets in the solar system have aurora of some sort. If a planet has an atmosphere and is bombarded by energetic particles, it will have an aurora. Since all planets are embedded in the solar wind, all planets are subjected to the energetic particle bombardment, and thus all planets that have a dense enough atmosphere will have some sort of aurora.

Planets like Venus, which has no magnetic field, have very irregular aurora, while planets like Earth, Jupiter, or Saturn, which have an intrinsic magnetic dipole field, have aurora in the shape of oval shaped crowns of light on both hemispheres. When the magnetic field of a planet is not aligned with the rotational axis, we get a much distorted auroral oval which might be near the equator, like on Uranus and Neptune.

                            Aurora on Saturn

Some of the larger moons of the outer planets are also big enough to have an atmosphere, and some have a magnetic field. They are usually protected from the solar wind by the magnetosphere of the planet that they orbit, but since that magnetosphere also contains energetic particles, some of these moons also have aurorae.


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