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Geophysical Research Letters

Role of the plasma acceleration time in the dynamics of the Jovian magnetosphere

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Abstract

The time needed to accelerate plasma in the Jovian magnetosphere to the self-consistent flow imposed by coupling to the ionosphere is proportional to the Pedersen conductivity times the magnetic field divided by the flux tube content. Where this acceleration time becomes longer than the plasma outflow time, it is not possible to maintain magnetospheric plasma in corotation with the planet; comparison of the two time scales gives a general estimate of the limiting distance for corotation, identical to that previously derived by Hill from a specific flow model. At distances well beyond this limit, the magnetosphere becomes effectively decoupled from the ionosphere. In describing rotationally driven radial diffusion, inertial effects must be included whenever the acceleration time is not short compared to the eddy circulation time; they impose an upper bound on the circulation time proportional to the corotational period.

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