Auroral evidence of Io's control over the magnetosphere of Jupiter

Authors


Abstract

[1] Contrary to the case of the Earth, the main auroral oval on Jupiter is related to the breakdown of plasma corotation in the middle magnetosphere. Even if the root causes for the main auroral emissions are Io's volcanism and Jupiter's fast rotation, changes in the aurora could be attributed either to these internal factors or to fluctuations of the solar wind. Here we show multiple lines of evidence from the aurora for a major internally-controlled magnetospheric reconfiguration that took place in Spring 2007. Hubble Space Telescope far-UV images show that the main oval continuously expanded over a few months, engulfing the Ganymede footprint on its way. Simultaneously, there was an increased occurrence rate of large equatorward isolated auroral features attributed to injection of depleted flux tubes. Furthermore, the unique disappearance of the Io footprint on 6 June appears to be related to the exceptional equatorward migration of such a feature. The contemporary observation of the spectacular Tvashtar volcanic plume by the New-Horizons probe as well as direct measurement of increased Io plasma torus emissions suggest that these dramatic changes were triggered by Io's volcanic activity.

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