Science + Technology

‘Chorus waves’ near Jupiter’s moons are explained in new research

Two UCLA space scientists contribute to study of Europa and Ganymede

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Jupiter’s moon Ganymede
NASA/JPL

Ganymede, photographed by the Galileo spacecraft.

In 1996, scientists discovered the presence of plasma waves near Ganymede, one of Jupiter’s moons. Those waves, similar in some ways to waves on the surface of water, are often referred to as “chorus waves,” because they can be played thorough a radio and sound something like a choir.

Until now, it remained unclear if the increases in wave power that the scientists observed were accidental increases associated with natural variability or were systematic and significant. A team of scientists that includes two UCLA researchers has published a study in Nature Communications that might explain the phenomenon.

The research reports that chorus wave power is increased by up to a million times near Ganymede, and up to 100 times near Europa, another of Jupiter’s moons.

“It’s really a surprising and puzzling observation showing that a bare presence of the magnetized object can create such a tremendous intensification in the power of waves,” said Yuri Shprits, the study’s first author and a researcher in the department of Earth, planetary and space sciences in the UCLA College.

Alexander Drozdov, a UCLA assistant researcher, was one of the study’s co-authors.

Read more about the work.

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