The observed magnetic field “presents huge challenges to our understanding of the dynamo mechanism that produces the magnetic fields in brown dwarfs and exoplanets and helps drive the auroras we see,” said Gregg Hallinan, of Caltech. “Detecting SIMP J01365663+0933473 with the VLA through its auroral radio emission also means that we may have a new way of detecting exoplanets, including the elusive rogue ones not orbiting a parent star.”

There are doubtless huge numbers of such wandering planets throughout the galaxy, but as they are comparatively small and dim, we’re lucky to find one. How do they get lost though?

Video Credit: Universe Today

It may be that an as yet undetected companion that may be driving its auroral activity, hopefully its near proximity to us will shed more light into its mysteries.


The Galileo probe was sacrificed on Dec. 7, 1995,by having it fly into the giant planet’s atmosphere and being destroyed by its massive gravitational field. What was puzzling at the time was the lack of water. Jupiter lies at what is known as the ‘frost line’ in the Solar system, as in icy moons etc, so not to find any was baffling to say the least. The theory was that the probe had simply fallen into a Jovian ‘desert’ of some kind, which we’re well aware sounds lame.  So scroll forward to NASA’s new Juno mission with its more advanced technology and we have new answers to this conundrum.

This animation takes the viewer on a simulated flight into, and then out of, Jupiter’s upper atmosphere at the location of the Great Red Spot. It was created by combining an image from the JunoCam imager on NASA’s Juno spacecraft with a computer-generated animation. The perspective begins about 2,000 miles (3,000 kilometers) above the cloud tops of the planet’s southern hemisphere. The bar at far left indicates altitude during the quick descent; a second gauge next to that depicts the dramatic increase in temperature that occurs as the perspective dives deeper down. The clouds turn crimson as the perspective passes through the Great Red Spot. Finally, the view ascends out of the spot.

Credit: NASA

“By formulating and analyzing data obtained using ground-based telescopes, our team has detected the chemical signatures of water deep beneath the surface of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Máté Ádámkovics, an assistant professor in the Clemson University College of Science’s department of physics and astronomy. “Jupiter is a gas giant that contains more than twice the mass of all of our other planets combined. And though 99 percent of Jupiter’s atmosphere is composed of hydrogen and helium, even solar fractions of water on a planet this massive would add up to a lot of water – many times more water than we have here on Earth.”

“The discovery of water on Jupiter using our technique is important in many ways. Our current study focused on the red spot, but future projects will be able to estimate how much water exists on the entire planet,” Ádámkovics said. “Water may play a critical role in Jupiter’s dynamic weather patterns, so this will help advance our understanding of what makes the planet’s atmosphere so turbulent. And, finally, where there’s the potential for liquid water, the possibility of life cannot be completely ruled out. So, though it appears very unlikely, life on Jupiter is not beyond the range of our imaginations.”

Gordon L. Bjoraker, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, reported in a recent paper in the Astronomical Journal that he and his team have also brought the Jovian research community closer to the answer using ground based techniques based on the infrared part of the spectrum.

“The moons that orbit Jupiter are mostly water ice, so the whole neighborhood has plenty of water,” said Bjoraker. “Why wouldn’t the planet — which is this huge gravity well, where everything falls into it — be water rich, too? If you see that the strength of methane lines vary from inside to outside of the Great Red Spot, it’s not because there’s more methane here than there, it’s because there are thicker, deep clouds that are blocking the radiation in the Great Red Spot.”

Knowing just how much water is present will help us find out more about the origin of the Solar system and the Juno spacecraft is a key to our next discoveries.