Global magnetic anomaly and aurora of Neptune



The large offset and tilt of Neptune's dipole magnetic field combine to create a global magnetic anomaly, analogous to but much more important than Earth's South Atlantic Anomaly. Energetic particle precipitation loss within the Neptune anomaly creates “Atmospheric drift shadows” within which particle fluxes are greatly reduced. The energetic particle dropout observed by Voyager near closest approach occurred near the predicted times when Voyager passed within the atmospheric drift shadow. Extremely soft, structured bursts of ions and electrons within the drift shadow may result from plasma wave-induced pitch angle scattering of trapped particles confined near the magnetic equator. The dropout does not necessarily imply that Voyager passed through an Earth-like discrete auroral zone, as earlier reported. The ion and electron fluxes observed within the dropout period correspond to particles that must precipitate to Neptune's atmosphere within the anomaly region. This anomaly precipitation can account for a major portion of the ultraviolet emissions previously identified as Neptune aurora.