Flashes of light called ‘sprites’ and ‘elves’ seen on Jupiter


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An illustration of what “sprites” may look like in Jupiter’s atmosphere


Sprites and elves have been spotted dancing in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter. These are not mystical beings, but two types of flashes of light called transient luminous events (TLEs), and it’s the first time they’ve been seen on a planet other than Earth.

The unpredictable flashes were spotted by accident, when a team of scientists led by Rohini Giles at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, were looking through ultraviolet images collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it orbits Jupiter.

As Juno …

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