Jupiter’s changing auroral location

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Abstract

[1] We examine the case of significant latitudinal shifts of the Jovian northern auroral emissions appearing in a data set spanning nine years of observations with the Hubble Space Telescope in the far ultraviolet. The extended data set makes it possible to compare the location of the main auroral emission with similar viewing geometries and satellite positions. The main auroral emission is assumed to originate from beyond the orbit of Ganymede (15 Jovian radii). At these distances, near corotation enforcement and transfer of momentum from Jupiter to the magnetospheric plasma is ensured by means of field aligned currents. The field aligned currents away from Jupiter are carried by downward energetic electrons loosing their energy to the polar atmosphere and giving rise to the main auroral emission. Analysis of the polar projected images shows that the latitudinal location of the main emission has changed by up to 3° over long periods of time. It also shows that the footprint of Ganymede follows a similar trend. We have used the VIP4 magnetic field model to map the emission down to the equatorial plane. This mapping suggests that internal variations of the current sheet parameters might be used as an alternative or complementary explanation to the changing solar wind conditions at Jupiter to explain the observed shift of auroral latitudes.

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