Response of the Io plasma torus to comet Shoemaker-Levy 9

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Science  03 Mar 1995:
Vol. 267, Issue 5202, pp. 1313-1317
DOI: 10.1126/science.7871429


Spectroscopic and imaging observations of the Io plasma torus were made in June and July 1994 in conjunction with the encounter of periodic comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter. Characteristic emissions from sulfur and oxygen ions showed a decline of about 30 percent in the extreme ultraviolet and an increase of about 40 percent in the far ultraviolet relative to preimpact observations. Changes in the extreme ultraviolet may be indicative of small changes in the torus electron temperature as a result of quenching of electrons by dust associated with the comet passage. However, no new emission features indicative of fragment dust within the torus were detected. The characteristic torus morphology seen in ground-based imaging was typical of that observed in the past.