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Mx AFFELIA WIBISONO
Mullard Space Science Laboratory
Holmbury St. Mary
Dorking
Surrey
RH5 6NT
Mx AFFELIA WIBISONO profile picture
Appointment
  • Student
  • Dept of Space & Climate Physics
  • Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences
Biography

After working in science communication for a decade, I am currently undertaking a PhD in Planetary Science at UCL’s Mullard Space Science Laboratory. My research involves using observations by space telescopes and spacecraft to investigate how and why Jupiter produces intense X-ray northern and southern lights. 


I have continued with my science communication work alongside my PhD. With a vast portfolio, from writing for the Guardian, NASA and the Royal Observatory Greenwich, to media interviews with BBC News and Sky News, to performing at festivals through the UK including Cheltenham Science Festival to Camp Bestival, and being a part of the production team for the Royal Institution's 2021 Christmas Lectures, I am often called upon to communicate complex theories in an entertaining and digestible manner, using my scientific knowledge and science communication expertise to educate, engage and enthuse everyone in astronomy from toddlers, to grandparents to school groups.

Research Groups
Research Summary

The shimmering, dancing curtains of light from our planet’s aurorae have mesmerised people for generations. However, it wasn’t until 1979 that the first extra-terrestrial aurora was detected during Voyager 1’s visit to Jupiter. The gas giant planet’s auroral emissions span several wavebands that includes X-rays. Studies show that Jupiter’s powerful magnetic field accelerates ions primarily from the local environment into the planet’s atmosphere above the polar regions. The ions undergo charge stripping before they charge exchange with atmospheric neutrals and produce soft (low energy) X-rays. These emissions also often pulse with periods of tens of minutes. A ring of high energy auroral X-rays arising from electron bremsstrahlung usually surrounds the soft X-ray emissions. Jupiter’s X-ray aurora are fixed on the planet’s frame so that as Jupiter spins on its axis, the aurorae rotate in and out of view, rather like how a pulsar’s beam of radiation sweeps across the sky.

 

How a planet can produce such intense X-rays is the main question that my project aims to answer. We are fortunate that the Juno spacecraft is currently orbiting Jupiter, as connections between the in-situ measurements that it takes, and X-ray signatures detected remotely by XMM-Newton can be made to achieve this aim.

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