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Flashes of light, known as “sprites” and “elves”, can be seen on Jupiter

By Abigail Beall

An example of what “sprites” can look like in Jupiter’s atmosphere

NASA / JPL-Caltech / SwRI

Sprites and elves were seen dancing in the upper atmosphere of Jupiter. These are not mystical beings, but rather two types of flashes of light known as transient light events (TLEs) and it is the first time they have been seen on a planet other than Earth.

The unpredictable flashes were discovered accidentally when a team of scientists, led by Rohini Giles of the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, examined ultraviolet images collected by NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it orbited Jupiter.

As Juno …