Using a new Juno reference model (JRM09), scientists at Harvard University have detected that Jupiter has an internal magnetic field that changes over time. This phenomenon is known as secular variation and has previously only been detected on Earth.
The researchers – a collaboration from the US and the UK – created the new JRM09 model by taking close-up measurements of Jupiter using Juno’s magnetometer to measure the strength and direction of the magnetic field. They could then compile this data into a three-dimensional image.
By comparing the new images provided by JUNO to legacy data from between 1973-1992 using the Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, Voyager 1 and Ulysses spacecraft, researchers were able to identify minute changes in the magnetic field over time. They found that over the 45 year time frame, there were systematic changes in Jupiter’s magnetic field.
Launched in 2011, Juno’s mission was to improve our understanding of the Solar System’s beginnings by revealing the origin and evolution of Jupiter. As it is our primary example of a giant planet, understanding the ancestry of Jupiter may shed light on how planetary systems are formed around other stars.
The magnetic field of a planetary body is ...