Simultaneous Chandra X ray, Hubble Space Telescope ultraviolet, and Ulysses radio observations of Jupiter's aurora


Observations of Jupiter carried out by the Chandra Advanced CCD Imaging Spectrometer (ACIS-S) instrument over 24–26 February 2003 show that the auroral X-ray spectrum consists of line emission consistent with high-charge states of precipitating ions, and not a continuum as might be expected from bremsstrahlung. The part of the spectrum due to oxygen peaks around 650 eV, which indicates a high fraction of fully stripped oxygen in the precipitating ion flux. A combination of the OVIII emission lines at 653 eV and 774 eV, as well as the OVII emission lines at 561 eV and 666 eV, are evident in the measure auroral spectrum. There is also line emission at lower energies in the spectral region extending from 250 to 350 eV, which could be from sulfur and/or carbon. The Jovian auroral X-ray spectra are significantly different from the X-ray spectra of comets. The charge state distribution of the oxygen ions implied by the measured auroral X-ray spectra strongly suggests that independent of the source of the energetic ions, magnetospheric or solar wind, the ions have undergone additional acceleration. This spectral evidence for ion acceleration is also consistent with the relatively high intensities of the X rays compared with the available phase space density of the (unaccelerated) source populations of solar wind or magnetospheric ions at Jupiter, which are orders of magnitude too small to explain the observed emissions. The Chandra X-ray observations were executed simultaneously with observations at ultraviolet wavelengths by the Hubble Space Telescope and at radio wavelengths by the Ulysses spacecraft. These additional data sets suggest that the source of the X rays is magnetospheric in origin and that the precipitating particles are accelerated by strong field-aligned electric fields, which simultaneously create both the several-MeV energetic ion population and the relativistic electrons observed in situ by Ulysses that are correlated with ∼40 min quasi-periodic radio outbursts.

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JGR: Space Physics



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