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The independent pulsations of Jupiter’s northern and southern X-ray auroras

Dunn, WR; Branduardi-Raymont, G; Ray, LC; Jackman, CM; Kraft, RP; Elsner, RF; Rae, IJ; ... Coates, AJ; + view all (2017) The independent pulsations of Jupiter’s northern and southern X-ray auroras. Nature Astronomy , 1 pp. 758-764. 10.1038/s41550-017-0262-6. Green open access

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Abstract

Auroral hot spots are observed across the Universe at different scales1 and mark the coupling between a surrounding plasma environment and an atmosphere. Within our own Solar System, Jupiter possesses the only resolvable example of this large-scale energy transfer. Jupiter’s northern X-ray aurora is concentrated into a hot spot, which is located at the most poleward regions of the planet’s aurora and pulses either periodically2,3 or irregularly4,5 . X-ray emission line spectra demonstrate that Jupiter’s northern hot spot is produced by high charge-state oxygen, sulfur and/or carbon ions with an energy of tens of MeV (refs 4–6) that are undergoing charge exchange. Observations instead failed to reveal a similar feature in the south2,3,7,8. Here, we report the existence of a persistent southern X-ray hot spot. Surprisingly, this largescale southern auroral structure behaves independently of its northern counterpart. Using XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray campaigns, performed in May–June 2016 and March 2007, we show that Jupiter’s northern and southern spots each exhibit different characteristics, such as different periodic pulsations and uncorrelated changes in brightness. These observations imply that highly energetic, non-conjugate magnetospheric processes sometimes drive the polar regions of Jupiter’s dayside magnetosphere. This is in contrast to current models of X-ray generation for Jupiter9,10. Understanding the behaviour and drivers of Jupiter’s pair of hot spots is critical to the use of X-rays as diagnostics of the wide range of rapidly rotating celestial bodies that exhibit these auroral phenomena.

Type: Article
Title: The independent pulsations of Jupiter’s northern and southern X-ray auroras
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41550-017-0262-6
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/s41550-017-0262-6
Language: English
Additional information: © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited, part of Springer Nature. All rights reserved. This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Space and Climate Physics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10038414
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