Images of Excited H3+ at the Foot of the lo Flux Tube in Jupiter's Atmosphere

See allHide authors and affiliations

Science  12 Nov 1993:
Vol. 262, Issue 5136, pp. 1035-1038
DOI: 10.1126/science.262.5136.1035


The electrodynamic interaction between lo and the Jovian magnetosphere drives currents to and from the planet's ionosphere, where H3+ emission is excited. Direct images of this phenomenon were obtained with the ProtoCAM infrared camera at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's 3-m Infrared Telescope Facility. The emissions are localized to the instantaneous foot of the lo flux tube, ≈8° equatorward of the more intense auroral H3+ emission associated with higher magnetic latitudes. The foot of the lo flux tube leads that of (undisturbed) model magnetic field lines passing through lo by 15° to 20° in longitude and is less visible in the northern hemisphere at longitudes where the surface magnetic field strength is greatest. These data favor the unipolar inductor model of the lo interaction and provide insight into the source location and generation of Jovian decameter radio emission.