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Geophysical Research Letters

First detection of [OI] 630 nm emission in the Enceladus torus

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Abstract

[1] Observations of [OI] 630 nm emission in the Enceladus torus around Saturn have been made at the summit of Mt. Haleakala in Hawaii using a high-dispersion echelle spectrograph coupled to a 40 cm telescope in the period of 13 May through 19 June 2011. A slit of the spectrograph was aligned perpendicular to the equatorial plane of Saturn and placed at a distance of 4 Saturn's radii (Rs) from the planetary center in the dawn side to put the Enceladus torus within the field of view. As a result, [OI] 630 nm torus emission was detected with S/N ~ 7 for summed exposure of 20 h during the observing period. The observed brightness has a maximum value of 4.1 ± 0.6 Rayleighs (R) near the equator, and it extends to north-south (N-S) direction with a full width at half maximum of 0.8 Rs. We made estimation to explain mechanism of the observed brightness taking into account an excitation of [OI] 630 nm by electron impact and photodissociation of water group molecule (OH and H2O). Densities of electron, O, OH, and H2O and electron temperature derived from data taken by Cassini and Hubble telescope were used for the estimation. The observed brightness is reasonably explained, taking into account an uncertainty of estimation depending on N-S distributions of species and quiet solar activity conditions. The estimation also suggests that [OI] 630 nm emission is excited by photodissociation of OH and H2O and by electron impact of O with their contributions of 50%, 30%, and 20%, respectively, for quiet solar activity. We also note that the intensity due to photodissociation has considerable variability depending on the level of solar activity by a factor of 2.5.

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